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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