Steve Schappell-My Blog

Friday, March 1, 2013

Our Weekend to Remember...(First in a Series)

It may not be your typical Valentines Present for each other--but for 1,930 others it was.

We attended our First ever Weekend to Remember, held in Hershey, PA at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.

My wife told me about this event and as a re-married couple with a blended family, we thought this would be a great idea to learn more about each other and have a getaway.

Family Life is a ministry, where their total focus is on the family unit: strong marriages, strong familes, raising kids, and more.
You can learn more about this weekend by visiting www.familylife.com/weekend  or www.familylife.com

The weekend started Friday night with a welcome reception, opening lessons and our first project.  Saturday was an all day event with more sessions, couples projects, and a Date Night during the evening.  It ended Sunday some final sessions and a wrap up around lunchtime.

Here is a summary of the event from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, the co-founders of Family Life.  "What you're about to hear this weekend is not just one couple's opinion on marriage.  It is the result of more than three decades of biblical research by a team of men and women who distilled what it takes to have a successful marriage and family.  You'll learn about timeless blue prints for marriage, about commitment and communication, and about romance and resolving conflict."

Family Life has a mission and four core messages that were discussed during the weekend  They are: 
  • Your personal walk with God
  • Your marriage Covenant
  • Your role in the family
  • Your spiritual legacy
 With that in mind, here is an overview of our first Session on Friday night: Why Marriages Fail.

First off, we learned these two things:

-Every marriage is either moving toward oneness or drifting toward isolation.   
-Understanding what threatens our marriage can help us achieve oneness.

So, what is "Oneness" in Marriage: involves complete unity with each other.  It's more than a mere mingling of two humans--it's the tender merger of body, soul, and spirit. 

Years of study and research has identified 5 Threats to Marriage and Oneness



-Difficult Adjustments
-Our Culture's Pattern
-Inevitable Difficulties
-Extramarital Affairs
-Selfishness

In all these cases, when couples fail to make necessary adjustments, follow our culture's pattern for marriage, fail to grasp God's perspective on difficulties, fail to escape extramarital affairs, and are selfish....the result is
ISOLATION.

We looked at each Threat in order and had some main points for each.


Difficult Adjustments

A. There is little in our culture today that encourages two people to make the difficult adjustments required to achieve marital oneness.

B. Contrasting backgrounds bring about painful adjustments for a couple in several areas, including: values, family history, past relationships, religion, and finances

C. The following superficial motivations for marriage require adjustments:
Feelings, Sexual attraction, Cultural or family pressures, Escape

D. Differing expectations about marriage in the following areas result in unexpected adjustments:
Roles, Expression of Love, Sexual performance, Plans for the future


 Our Culture's Pattern
A. Our culture's pattern is a 50/50 performance relationship.
  1. Acceptance is based upon performance
  2. Giving is based on merit-affection is given when one feels it is deserved
  3. Motivation for action is based on how one feels
B. Our culture's pattern is destined to fail because of:
  1. My inability to meet all unreal expectations
  2. My tendency to focus on weaknesses in my spouse
  3. My disappointment in my spouse, which hinders my performance
  4. My desire to get revenge when wronged
  5. The impossibility of knowing if my spouse has met me halfway
Inevitable Difficulties

A. There are 2 failures in our response to difficulties:
  1. Not anticipating the certainty of difficulties and problems
  2. Not responding properly to difficulties and problems
B. Difficulties do not mean something is wrong in your marriage, rather your response to difficulties will either drive you apart, or bring you together.  There needs to be a plan to move through difficulties without rejecting or withdrawing from your spouse.

Extramarital Affairs

A. An extramarital affair is an ESCAPE from reality or for Fulfillment outside of marriage.  Extramarital affairs take on different forms:
  • Activities affair: Life has too many activities with the kids, church, work
  • Materialism affair: Pursuit of everything
  • Career affair: Work is your fulfillment
  • Family affair: Marriage is not about the kids first
  • Fantasy affair: Porn or romance novels
  • Love affair: Affects 20% of every couples
B. We are seduced to believe that we deserve complete fulfillment and perfect happiness.

Selfishness

A. Everyone has a natural tendency to be self centered and destructive in relationships.

B. Our culture today promotes selfishness.

C. Reality sets in after marriage
-During dating, there is little responsibility and pressure
-Early on, appreciation and approval is freely given

D. Selfishness robs the relationship of its romance.
-Our selfish nature focuses on and becomes critical of our spouse's weaknesses, mistakes or failures to meet our expectations.

-Our disappointment or disapproval of our spouse can lead them to feel rejection, anger and bitterness.

-Out selfish nature seeks to justify our rejection of our spouse.


CONCLUSION
If couples are not intentionally moving toward oneness, their marriages will drift toward isolation. 

Next, we will learn about Communication...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Good Life and where to find it...

I had always wanted to join a Fraternity...

Not the "Kegga Brewa Drunka" kind, but one that would bring together a group of guys to share some similar experiences, create friendships that would last, and have a greater purpose.

Fortunately, I attended Geneva College, where there were no Fraternities, so that idea ended quickly.  Now; however, 29 years later (Wow, is it really that long?) I am in a Fraternity of sorts. 

For over the past year, every Thursday, I have been attending the Men's Fraternity at my Church.  This program is led by Dr. Robert Lewis, a pastor, author, speaker, who has a 3-year program on Authentic Manhood.  24 of us watch a DVD in the church sanctuary, followed by a small group discussion.  I have had the opportunity to get to know some of these men on a more personal level, to pray for them and to have their support.

Our 2nd year program is called "Winning at Work and Home," and focuses on three areas: (Better understanding of and working with your wife, Leading at Home, and Leading at Work.

Tonight's topic was called "The Good Life and Where to Find It."  I wanted to share the first part of it, as it was good practical information.

1. Can the Good Life be Defined?

Many studies have been undertaken and shared to answer this question.  Tonight, we learned that "Surprise," it can!

"Really?," you say.  "Well then, what is the Good Life and how and I have it?"

To answer that, let's work backwards by starting with what is isn't.

2. What the Good Life is Not
      
The studies broke down 4 areas that does NOT define the Good Life and comprise the "outer shell" of a person.  They are:
  • Wealth and Posessions
  • Beauty  
  • Thrilling Experiences
  • Personal Accomplishments  
These areas are inherently not bad, but they all fade over time and are not sustaining.  More money or things did not equate to a lasting happiness, and in some cases, made things worse.  Beauty is subjective, Thrilling Experiences are used to compensate for an otherwise mundane life, and Personal Accomplishments are often fleeting.

3. What the Good Life Is  
 
Breaking past the outer shell and getting to the "inside" of a person, we find there are 4 things are define what the Good Life is:
  
  • Close Friends
  • A Good Marriage
  • Control Over Your Life
  • A Vibrant Religious Faith 
 These are some great items.  Close friends build you up, become life long companions and can strengthen you.  Take a look at couples who have been married for a long time and they will tell you that a Good Marriage is one of the secrets to a good life.  Control over your life is not about doing it alone, but understanding that one of the keys to happiness and a good life is turning over contol of your life to a force greater than ourselves to gain control.  (It is a paradox, I know)  And finally, the studies show that a Vibrant Faith is essential to living the Good Life.  

4. Boiling it down 

Here is the last part, we took the 4 items above on what the Good Life is and we looked at the Bible to see what it had to say.  We looked at only (1) Verse and one sentence.  ONE...that sums it all up.

  • Love
  • Hope
  • Faith
 Close Friends and a Good Marriage all have LOVE in them.  Control over your Life has HOPE.  And a Vibrant Religious Faith has FAITH.  And the Verse?  Some of you may know it well, and for others, this may be one of the Secrets to the Good Life and Happiness.  Are you ready?

"Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13

Here's to the Good Life my friends...may we all find it.

 
 






Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Almost 2 years later....

Wow!  March 2oth will be 2 years since I started this Blog.  Much has been written and even more has been left unsaid.

I will have to improve on that in the months ahead.  With Lent coming up next month, it will be my time to be off Facebook for 40 days.  When that happens, my communication will be with this Blog.  I think about writing a lot, but life gets in the way.

"In what way, you say?"  Here is a neat, little list:

  • I got remarried on November 24th, 2012
  • Integrating a blended family that will have 4 kids, 2 adults and 1 dog come June 2013
  • 17 year old teenager
  • 13 year old tween
  • Current job adventures and current job search for future better job
  • Celebrate Recovery at Church every Monday as a Men's small group leader
  • Men's Fraternity at Church every Thursday
  • Financial considerations and house improvements
  • Monthly bus trips to see my wife and visa-versa for her
  • Teenage parent concerns
Yea, I guess stuff that you deal with also.  Overriding all of this is the amazing work that God has been performing since I lost my job with Members 1st in July of 2011.  There have been highs and lows; but I have been learning to trust God more every day.  It has not always been easy, but wow, what a journey.

Have there been some casualties along the way?  There have been some.  And I originally looked at them this way.
  • Lost a close friend after I began dating my now wife
  • Strained relations with my son after moving into my house and since before the remarriage
  •  Loss of income and permanent lifestyle changes
However, now that I see things more from God's perspective, some of what happened above has been used for his glory.

  • The loss of a friend opened a door to the discovery of my best earthly friend and now wonderful wife, who loves and supports me completely and in ways I could not imagine
  • Re-learning to be a parent again after divorce and remarriage.  To connect with my kids in new ways and strengthen relationships one day at a time.
  • Learning to trust God for everything, especially financially.  Also learning that the Dollar General, Aldi's and the Dollar Store have a lot for less...why did I not go there before?
So life is good and getting better.  I have a long way to go, which means much more to write.  I will one day figure out my calling and what I am here for.  For now, I want to write whenever I can and hope that you will read along with me.


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your room is ready


"In my Father's house are many mansions, if were not so, I would have told you.  I got to prepare a place for you.  And if I go a prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, you may be also."
John 14: 2-3

One of the pillars of the American Dream is home ownership.  The pride of being able to own you piece of America.  Have your white picket fence....2 kids, 2 cars...etc.  You get the picture.  Home ownership is a dream for many, a reality for others, and for some...what once was.

Mortgage rates have hit another record low, while foreclosures continue to climb.  In this fragile economy, too many are finding out they cannot afford their home, or changes in their lives have forced choices that in some cases mean a home is lost.

Not all hope is lost and it is not all doom and gloom.  However, times like these make us realize that this is not our home.  The cool thing is that when we receive Jesus into our loves, God opens up another room and a permanent home awaits us.

In the New Spirit Filled Bible that I read, Jesus says in Verse 2 "In my Father's house are many Mansions..."  The study notes for this verse read: Mansions literally means "dwelling places."  A better translation is "rooms," conveying the idea that there is ample space in Heaven for all who come to Jesus as Savior.

How about that.  Mansions...a room for you...prepared and waiting so when Jesus returns and receives us for Himself, where we are, He will be also.  Whether a room, a house, or dwelling place, it does not matter.  There is Vacancy for all believers.

Hmmm...no mortgage payment because Jesus already made payment in full.  No electric bill, water bill, sewer bill, heating bill, cable bill, phone bill....No bills EVER again.  Living in the presence of God and Jesus and all other believers for ALL Eternity.  Now that is a room that I want and a place I look forward to going to.

The Vacancy sign is out and Heaven will never run out of rooms.  God can always add on.  Like the sign says in this blog, "Yes Vacancy."  Now that's something to be excited about.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Opposite Directions


“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Acts 3:19

As some of you may know, I have been involved in an “interstate” relationship.  My girlfriend and I live 4 ½ hours apart on almost opposite ends of Pennsylvania.

For the past 9 months, we have gone back and forth first by car and now by bus on alternating weekends.  We normally see each other 2x a month, and sometimes more.  The hardest part of the weekend is always when we leave.  You see, when we are together, things flow smoothly.  No matter what we do—together, or with her kids, or mine—we have a wonderful time. 

It feels natural spending time together, moving in the same direction.  We enjoy working together on common goals and mutual interests.

All the more reason that when it’s time for one of us to leave and get on the bus, we get sad.  We tell each other we are in each other’s heart and look forward to the next time we see each other again.  We know that this is a “season” we are in and God is taking care of everything.

But the real reason it hurts is that we are going in opposite directions.  Putting that distance between us when we desire to be together and moving in the same direction.

That’s how it is with God and his children.  We are all his children and were designed to move in the same direction with our Lord and Creator.  Then sin came into the world and it became fractured and torn.  Only Jesus, through his death on the cross and resurrection, brought a way back to God.  And one day when He returns again, we will have restoration and come full circle as was intended in the beginning.

When we turn away from God and try to go on our own, we move in an opposite direction from his will.  We put that distance between Him when he desires a relationship with him, and moving in the same direction.

When we wait upon the Lord, listen for his voice, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, He makes our crooked paths straight.  He gives us peace and healing.  Opens doors no man can open.  It is not easy, but when we work on walking together with God in the same direction and in his time, we receive time of refreshing.

It does not matter who you are, or what you have done.  God is waiting with open arms and a Love so deep and wide, we cannot comprehend it.  So, turn to God, receive complete forgiveness of your sins, and enjoy the refreshing that only comes from God’s presence in your life.       

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

State of Contentment (Not always easy...)

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
Philippians 4:11

I have a booklet by Norman Vincent Peale called "Thought Conditioners."  This features 40 powerful spiritual phrases that can change the quality of  your life.  The above passage is one of these 40.

In it, he says that our present situation may not be to our liking.  Perhaps we are dissatisfied and discouraged.  He says to put the matter into God's hands and if he wants you elsewhere, he will lead you there, if you are open to his leading.  On the other hand, God may want you where you are.  In that case, he will help you adjust to the situation.  He will make you content, even grateful for present opportunities.  This way you can learn to do the best you can, with what you have, where you are now. 

My life radically changed since I lost my job last August.  While I did not see it at the time, it has been for my benefit and many blessings have arrived as a result.  Let's look at this in my life from what Dr. Peale talked about in the previous paragraph.

When I was let go, it certainly was not to my liking.  Losing that identity was very hard.  Along with it, came the loss of work, salary, benefits, and recognition.  I had to apply for unemployment and stay holed up at home to work full-time to find full-time work.  I was dissatisfied and discouraged to say the least.  It was during this time that God brought me to my knees, crying out to him for relief.  He got me to where he needed me to be.  On my knees, crying out and telling him I could not do this without his help.  It was only when I put the matter into God's hands, did I begin to gain some understanding.

I prayed that I would find work closer to home, with regular hours, no evenings and no weekends.  I also told God the salary range I wanted to be in.  I prayed and God answered....in his way.  Thanks to a talk with a neighbor and an ad in the Merchandiser, I applied to a local company looking for an office manager/Customer Service.  God answered with my current job.  It is closer to home (2.5 miles), has regular hours (8:30 to 5:00), no nights and no weekends.  The salary: 1/2 of what I was earning in my last job.

God did lead me elsewhere, and I have learned to adjust.  What I earn pays my bills, so I did not fall behind.  It is tight and a struggle at times, but I am learning to be content.  I am able to help out more with my kids, able to see their games.  God showed me that he knew this was coming and used my last job to set me up for this.  I was able to purchase my house and put 20% down.  I was able to pay my car off (after losing my job), and in a place where I am maintaining what I have.  My kids and ex wife have adjusted to this and understand.  I am looking for other positions, but am growing where I am now.

So perhaps God wants me where I am and he is helping me to adjust to the situation.  See, losing my job and gaining this new one, opened up my weekends.  If not for what happened, I may have not met my girlfriend, who I have been crazy in love with for almost 9 months now.  God brought an amazing blessing into my life with Shari (that's her name), and I am grateful daily for her love and friendship.

It also showed me that I was not ready to be a leader as I thought.  In my last position, I managed 6 others at a Credit Union branch.  Brought in from the outside, I had not only to learn the banking world, but a new corporate culture, while managing the personalities of 6 unique people.  It was a lot to juggle and through my recent experience, have come to realize and admit that I was not ready to be a manager.  I was watching Joyce Meyer recently and she mentioned something that stopped me in my tracks.  Basically she said that to be in a leadership position you have to have to learn be under authority.  To understand what it is like so that of God brings you into a position of authority, you will know how to act and treat others.  And that is what is happening right now in my present position.  It is exciting to see that God is preparing me for something greater down the road.

Finally, God is teaching me to be the best that I can be (dad, boyfriend, friend, etc), with what I have (my present situation...home, salary, car, etc), and where I am (my job and in life)  I have more growing to do each day, but I see progress and God is good.
 
I am learning to be content, more so that I ever have been.  It is a struggle, but one I want to overcome so that God can work through me for my personal growth and to help others.  My prayer for you is that you will also learn to be content with who you are, where you are, and what is in your life right now.  Know that it is a season, one that God will move you out of into the next season of life.  No matter what happens, he will never leave nor forsake you.



  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Encouraging Prayer

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may he healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
James 5:16

It is a good thing to pray for and encourage one another.  Encouraging one another up in the faith strengthens the body of Christ, and building another up is always better than tearing someone down.

I did not intend this blog as a way to ask for anything from anyone.  However,  I am asking for your prayers as God is preparing me for a new opportunity.

I really want to make a difference in life.  I thought that was at work (I have to be in a career that makes a difference...) I felt it had to be something big.  Since I lost my job last August, God is showing me that I can make a difference at work, in all the small ways.  From the way I act and speak, for example.  I am also being shown that when I wait on the Lord, he will direct my path and move me to where he wants me to go.

I am currently in a Men's Group that meets at church every other week.  It is called "Men's Fraternity," and is a 3-year course on Manhood.  We are on a quest for authentic manhood.  This is designed to answer some questions that are universal to men.  I am in the beginning phases of this; however, God is showing me a lot about myself and opening up other avenues in my life.

One of those areas is what I am asking for prayer in.  Our church is starting the "Celebrate Recovery" program this summer.  This was started at Saddleback Church (Pastor Rick Warren's Church) by John Baker.  Celebrate Recovery is a recovery program based on eight principles from the Beatitudes.  While similar in some aspects to the 12-step program like AA, this is world's apart in execution, using Biblical principles to guide every aspect of the program.

When I read in our bulletin about this a few months ago, my heart leaped, and at the time I was not sure why.  My girlfriend has been involved in her church with this program and was excited to hear this was coming to our church.  I felt a tug at my heart about this and prayed about it. 

Then, a few weeks ago I saw in the bulletin 2 men were needed to be facilitators in this program.  God laid on my heart during the service and afterwards I went up to one of the organizers and volunteered my services.  Now, I am going thorough a leaders guide and reading workbooks and materials that my girlfriend has to become familiar with this, and eager to start our planning meetings.

I thought, "wait a minute God, what do I know about this?  I am not trained in this area, yet I have a strong desire to help in any way I can."  Then God took me back to my college days and it started to make sense.

You see, it started during college, and while I never understood why, I was grateful for it.  Other students, some I was friends with and others that I did not know, would share with me.  Some of what they shared was very personal, and in some cases, I was the first one they told.  One person said I seemed like someone they could trust, and another said they felt comfortable with me to share.  In all cases, I promised that I would not share their secrets with anyone else.  This continued here and there after college, and stopped after I got married and had kids.  Now, all these years later, I am feeling led to a place where I feel I can make a difference.  That is what I am praying about.  That God would use me for whatever purpose he has.

I did not see it at the time, but now understand that when these people shared their pain, loss, hurts and secrets with me, they experienced a relief and had some new found freedom.  They were able to let go of that part of their past and move forward.  Now here I was, with all their secrets in my head and feeling a bit burdened.  Once I realized that my next step was to lay those burdens down at the feet of Christ, did I experience that same freedom and release they experienced.

I don't remember everything that people told me over the years, but that may not be a bad thing.  They released them to me and I gave them to God.  Jesus died for all of us and he asks that we cast our cares on him for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

I am praying that I might be able to help others in Celebrate Recovery, and be built up in Christ in the process.  If you feel so led, I am asking for prayers that God will use me in this program to help others experience freedom in Christ; a freedom we are all looking for. 


  My girlfriend is involved in this and