Losing Weight…Together!

Karen and I decided to pay $3,000 to lose weight. Sounds like a lot, but we figured that, compared to the cost of treatment for strokes or heart attacks—things we were statistically headed toward–$3,000 was a deal! Also, the emotional cost of being sick or hospitalized, would be FAR worse than other costs.

I won’t say it was easy, but ultimately, I lost 60 pounds and she lost more than 35. It was /is great, except that people think she’s my daughter.

The keys to this are simple:

  1. Eliminate sugar wherever possible. Use Stevia or go without with coffee, etc.
  2. Cut excess fats and focus on lean meat, vegetables, and lots of salad.
  3. Eliminate carbs because they turn-into sugar (thus see #1 above).

I’m glad we did it…and, I’d be happy to share details of the program we were in with anyone who’s interested.

The thing I’d like to emphasize is that we did it together. That’s huge. It’s amazing how powerful something couples do together can be. It’s not just that we help each other be successful. It’s not that we go to the gym together as a “cheap date,” (although it is). It’s the fact that you have this shared experience.

Face the Tough Stuff–Together!

We often think of shared experiences as positive things like a vacation. The truth is, some of the best ones are–not necessarily negative like an accident or tragedy–but things that are challenging.

I think this is why people tend to remember the vacations where the car broke down in the middle of the desert, etc. The challenge of it and how you “survived,” draws you together.

So, I’m not suggesting that you all need to lose weight (although most Americans DO), nor am I suggesting that you look for tough things to endure. What I AM encouraging is that you not run from the challenging things or try to “tough them out” solo. I think that when couples intentionally tackle things together–it can actually make them healthier and improve their relationship.

The Prepare-Enrich program has been an instrumental part of this process for many, many couples I’ve worked with. If you’d like to find out more, visit our RESOURCES page and click the appropriate links. You can also call me at 860-938-2725 to discuss this “live.”



Pastor Joel

Fun With Dad

(NOTE: Some of our readers are forming step families with children from a prior marriage/relationship. This weekend, we dedicate our post to all Dad’s wishing them the happiest of Father’s Days! To all kids–here’s how to have fun with Dad…)

I loved my sixth grade teacher. His name was Mr. Wesner and he was a riot. He was tough, but fair and we learned a lot from him. I remember that he enjoyed playing “mum-ball” with us weekly.

Mum-ball was a game he made-up where we’d sit on top of our desks in absolute silence. Then, he’d chuck a rubber ball—the same kind we used in dodge-ball—at one of us. If we caught it and didn’t talk or make any noise, we got to keep playing. If it bounced off us or if we yelped, we’d be out and have to sit in our seat until the game ended. The last person sitting on his/her desk won.

There were a number of cases where one of us would dive off the desk to rescue a ball or where we’d be hit so hard that we, the ball, and our desk would topple over. Today, he’d be sued for child abuse. Back then, it was just pure fun!

Then there was Dad. Dad loved stuff like baseball, shooting, hunting, fishing–good old fashion outdoor fun. Still, again, the gun-related parts of this would be considered “taboo” in much of today’s culture.

So, on this Father’s Day, let me suggest that we take a break from political-correctness and hyper-vigilance over some progressive idea of “safety,” and have some fun, REAL fun with Dad. Sure, get him a card (click here for info on a great source for those), but…let’s get adventurous shall we?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Take him shooting. Yes. That’s right. Let him use a weapon to blow holes in something. It’s fun and, if done at a range with proper instruction, it’s safe too.
  2. Go to a paintball range. Welts and all, paintball is a great “Dad game.” It’s relatively inexpensive, messy, and might provide a good workout too.
  3. Play touch football in the yard. Or, just play catch. Yes, old school I know, but still fun.
  4. Wrestle with him. I remember family wrestling matches with my kids when they were little. They can all beat me now so I have scratched it off my list. Still, for some, it’s still OK.
  5. Take him to a ballgame. Hot dogs, popcorn, baseball…need I say more?
  6. Do an intense hike. Most local or state park associations maintain a list of great hikes of varied intensity. Dad might like some outdoor nature and family time.
  7. Try an extreme sport. I’m not a fan of skydiving, etc., but some are. Ask Dad if there’s one he’s always dreamed of trying and then–go for it!

If you survive this adventure into past masculine intensity, I’d love to hear your comments…I suspect, just like Mr. Wesner’s sixth grade class, you’ll have some good times and great memories to share!

Oh, and if you’d like to find some great gifts for Dad, check my review of Dayspring here. They offer some specials Dad might just love!

To that end,

Pastor Joel

How to Work On Your Marriage

From time to time, I’m asked about how to work on marriage, that is, to make a marriage stronger–more stable and healthy. When ever I think about working on anything, I think of my father.

My Dad was a hard worker and a good man. He was often the first one up in the morning and the last one in bed. In the 70’s, he sold petroleum products plus nuts and bolts straight commission. Still, he earned around $40,000 a year doing it. For a guy selling to farmers with no college degree, etc.; that was and is pretty impressive.

Dad always saw himself in terms of his work and his ability to provide. Thus, full retirement with nothing to do was never a good thing. When, at age 77, he came to the place where he couldn’t work or drive any longer, it was over. He retired and had a party on a Tuesday, had a stroke on Thursday, and was dead by Sunday.

Work was important to Dad. In many ways, it defined him. He enjoyed it. It wasn’t drudgery or something he resented–it was what enriched his life.

Work Your Marriage

I think the key to working on marriage and making a marriage healthier is to see it in much the same way. It’s not exhausting labor or agonizing, stressful effort. Rather, the effort to serve and express love to one another is what defines us. It’s enriching–even fun. I’m not suggesting it’s easy, just as it wasn’t easy for my Dad. What I AM suggesting is that it’s worth it and, we can learn to enjoy the journey as we do it.

If you’d like help as you strive to improve your relationship, please use the “Contact Us” tab to get in touch. We’d love to serve wherever possible. We also offer a wide array of tools and resources under the “Resources” tab on this site.


Pastor Joel

Tough Love Relationships

James Dobson once said that if your kids live to be 18, you’re a successful parent. My Granddaughter Aadi almost ruined that one day.

My daughter Shelly and her daughter, Aadi, came to visit one afternoon. Aadi was about 2 and my daughter was pregnant with her second child. I was having some severe knee problems such that I was limping badly but I hobbled out the door to see them anyway. I let Aadi out of the car and we started walking toward the house together. My daughter was a few steps ahead of us.

When I reached the steps to our side entrance, I realized Aadi wasn’t beside me. When I turned around, I saw her running toward the street. We live on a main road between New Britain and Newington, CT. Traffic is intense and fast-moving. Aadi, oblivious to the danger, was laughing and racing toward it. My daughter screamed and we both started yelling to her to stop!

Aadi, who now thought this was a delightful game, laughed louder and ran faster toward her own demise.

Wincing in pain and screaming for her to stop, I took off! I ran and prayed and ran and prayed. Just as she crossed the sidewalk, literally one jump from entering traffic below eye-level for most drivers, I caught her by the collar and dragged her backwards. She fell on her bottom and cried, looking at me as if I was a cruel monster. I swept her into my arms, comforting and explaining to her that I HAD to do that because she almost had a “REALLY BAD OWCHIE” if I hadn’t stopped her.

I carried her to her sobbing mother who hugged and kissed and lectured her as we limped into the house.

My actions that day didn’t ruin our relationship. In fact, they saved her life. Still, had you asked her that afternoon about her “Bampa,” she would have told you that I was “Bad.” Why? Because I ruined her fun.

A lesson for marriage

You might be thinking, “Well, this is fine for parents, but I’m only engaged,” or, “We don’t have kids yet–so what’s the point?”

Truthfully, ALL relationships require “tough love.” There’s not such thing as a trouble-free, conflict-free friendship–let alone, marriage! In my book, “The Crucified Couple,” I talk about several steps to conflict resolution. CLICK HERE for a review of the book (Scroll down the reviews to find “The Best Marriage Book Ever.”). Still, that only becomes necessary when we are bold enough to confront a problem–in love, and with humility, but confronted nonetheless!

True love isn’t “live and let live,” nor is it “live and let die,” (as the Beatles musically taught us all). True love will always confront someone when to avoid that confrontation means to allow them to suffer. In Galatians 6:1, the Apostle Paul puts it this way, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted (NKJV).”

Simply put–you can’t let them run into the street!

Questions to Ask

So if you’re considering marriage, consider these questions:

  1. Are you willing to confront your future spouse if needed?
  2. Is he/she willing to do the same for you?
  3. Are you willing to receive that confrontation with grace and humilty?
  4. Is he/she willing to receive your correction the same way?

If the answer to any of these questions is, “No,” I would advise that you “put the brakes on” any marriage plans until you get some counseling and change it to a “Yes.” If I can help–just let me know. You can reach us via the “contact” tab on this page or by calling 860-938-2725.



Pastor Joel