Archive for ‘Relationships’

April 15, 2012

Worries of a Twin Mom To Be Over Surrogacy

With 400 miles separating them, mom can only hope her surrogate is doing the right things.

April 1, 2012

Ebony & Ivory Twins Set an Example For All

On in a million twins are a picture of the right connections.

February 25, 2012

Kate Can’t Get A Date

Too much media time can hurt the love life. Especially if  you are Kate Gosselin!

January 30, 2011

A Man after God’s Own Heart

Oh to be a man after God’s own heart. To be upright, gracious, grounded in truth, full of faith, lead by His Spirit, moved by compassionate love and steeped in wisdom. As Christian men we have a tall order to fill. Roles and expectations wait at every juncture. Secular media has its ideas and portrayals which vary from vanity based sales pitches to spoofs, degradations or aggrandizement depending on the audience they’re aiming to capture and sell soap to.

 Christian media and way too many tele-ministries and concerned but insecure ministers are only marginally better and sadly are book sales or control motivated as well. There is a two dimensional Christian Machismo waiting out there for the unwary but well intentioned man seeking to please his God. Just like all religious legalisms it exists to serve those who create and enforce its tenants.

So we must choose carefully those we follow in Christ’s name. Fortunately we are called to liberty and service to the cause of the Living God alone. Hope abounds where faith is full and love is the standard. Too much of this is based on being a leader, male exclusivity and blind faith in the “leadership”. Let get something straight right here.

The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is not to identify, refine or produce leaders or blind followers. Training and equipping the saints for the work of service, going out and making disciples of all nations are the “Five fold” ministry’s function and the “Body’s” commission and purpose. Who is the greatest of all in God’s kingdom boils down to who will be humble and serve?

When anyone from the TV lights, pompadour and pulpit persuasion stands up and declares the list of duties the real men of God must never perform because these are the work of Godly and “submitted women” only or the litany of titles and positions only men can rightfully fill. Block that channel, cancel that check and pray the Holy Spirit will convict this brother of his error and pride. Our gifts and gifting, temperaments and personalities were conceived and predestined for us by name before the foundations of the world were in place. No cookie cutter was used by God in this process.

Being a true man after God’s own heart simply requires following the example of Jesus Himself. Truth, love and a servant heart were the hallmarks of His perfect life and example of living. He sat no bounds on the depth of love He would show or on those He would show it to. He shrank from no situation that required that He share truth or who He would share it with. He withdrew from no act of service even unto death on the cross.

Samaritans, Romans, Greeks, Pharisees, the demon possessed, beggars, rich rulers, men and women, sinners one and all were loved , comforted, confronted and forgiven by this extraordinary man and His extraordinary death and resurrection. This is the example. The only question is: Are you man enough to follow it and Him or the self serving requirements of the Christian Macho movement and it’s repressive roles and bondage building advocates?

*All photos thanks to:

*…and these talented folk

<p><a href=”″>Image: luigi diamanti /</a></p>

<p><a href=”″>Image: markuso /</a></p>

<p><a href=”″>Image: bulldogza /</a></p>

January 27, 2011

Build a Bridge, Be a Bridge

Dads are just not what they used to be. Today it is not unusual for the title to have several prefixes such as single, step, at home, or absentee attached. Some of this may be good, some surely are bad. Sadly, too many families and the lives contained within them seem oddly shaped, unstable, and somewhat stapled together. In the midst of all this generational and relational wobbling, how does a modern father hope to cope or, better yet, dare to succeed? Well let me make a suggestion: build a bridge and be your type of dad. Sounds simple enough, right? Let me elaborate.

Men have been under assault in our culture for four decades. Sadly, some practitioners of this have created nearly androphobic political and educational movements. Some of the scrutiny was deserved, but the fruit of their efforts has become twisted and dangerous, with the worst effects of this being men struggling to find their footing in life’s fundamental relationships. Marriage, family, parenting, and society all seem to be suffering greatly as a result.

Now I do not presume to propose the cure for our culture’s ills right here and single-handedly. That would be more than a bit vain. I will share three relational insights that have served me well in overcoming my own dysfunctions and becoming an unusual but mostly successful husband and daddy.

My family is a bit different even by modern standards. I have been married for some twenty years to date. In this time, we have been blessed with seven children. Two are currently teenagers, one is a toddler and four are nine-year-old quadruplets. Now this may sound like a hair-raising (or losing) situation, but, believe me, it is really quite cool and most rewarding. Oh, I am also one of those “at home dads” as well.

I like to get all that out there so folks can see where I am coming from. I am an at home dad of quadruplets plus three. Sounds way out there to most folks. Just not wholly out there enough to get you on “Wife Swap” or “TLC.” Believe me, we have been approached, then rejected mainly due to a lack of dysfunction. I view that as a great compliment.

What has worked for me, beyond the personal faith thing (or perhaps because of it), has been making peace with the past and disregarding the expectations of others. Relationships are always a come as you are party, even if they start as a masquerade. We can pretend we are being just about anything. A great dad, great guy, great husband, and on and on, but the pretending will stop at some point. This is the point at which the relationship founded on our pretend-self falls apart. If a family was resting on that relational foundation, the scene becomes a train wreck.

Now do not get me wrong. I am not saying that all you need to do to get your relational train on track is:

a. Have a one time good old gut check.

b. Forget about the personal oops and stumbles of yesterday.

c. Say to heck with what other people think.

To become the type of man and dad you are meant to be takes a bit more work than that. Past hurts, offenses, and mistakes require forgiveness, some to other people, some from other people and some to us. That can be some real heavy lifting. Just like real time in the gym, the results will show, but the pain precedes the gain. Self-doubts and fear of failure lurk around these corners daring us to pass by. Forgiving, even forgiving ourselves gives some light to pass on through.

Disregarding others expectations does not imply a go it alone “this is my life” Billy Joel-esque reprise. It entails taking responsibility–assessing the situation and the particular season’s needs, in light of the strengths and weaknesses at hand–fully collaborating with only the party involved and implementing the plan that makes the most sense. That means open honest communication. In doing this you will add trust while minimizing the weakness and maximizing the strengths of both partners. You also establish healthy boundaries that block out unneeded noise and those rascally expectations others on the sidelines always have.

That is what a healthy relationship is in my view a bridge. A partnership that supports more relational weight than simple addition and numbers can explain. Like all bridges, it takes real effort and engineering. I contend that if you do these two things and add one last ingredient you will shore any currently crumbling parenting and relational pillars you may have.

So lastly, simply get yourself out of your way. By this, I mean putting your wants, comforts, and self-interests behind the wants, needs, interests, and comfort of the others that you relationally support. So many times, we are our own relational worst enemy. We excuse destructive behaviors as our personal quest for self-fulfillment or realization. We purpose to settle old scores with exes and others regardless of the pain we cause so many. We waste precious time we will not get back playing beat the clock with the graying man in the mirror.

We need to view ourselves as being a bridge for others to cross over. Our instability may mean our kids are delayed or bruised badly on their trip towards adulthood. Our steady and non-self centered efforts may also find them on solid ground. Once on that firm relational footing, they just may have some good memories and great examples to fall back on.

The time will come when they themselves will take their turn as dads, moms, husbands, and wives. We guys–the dads and husbands–are the key to turning the relational decline we see all around us back on the up swing. Our parenting is the bridge to the future. We have to build that bridge, guys. By faith, I believe we can all take our families somewhere well worth going because, lets face it, too many are simply on a bridge to nowhere.

January 21, 2011

If Don’t Have to Don’t & Other Saged Marriage Advice

In such a self-serving hedonistic time as ours how do folks make, manage and maintain a health marriage? Interestingly, this is one area where following Christ’s example might find us a bit stumped. Jesus never married. I do not care what Tom Hanks says. The apostle Paul was married back in his hometown of Tarsus. However, he could not even get his ministry going until both Tarsus and the wife were behind him. His advice basically on marriage was “if you don’t have to, don’t”.  

Now we could lay out a good Christian comedy routine about here but marriage is not a joke, nor is divorce a laughing matter. Paul valued marriage but was committed to the ministry. It had to be his priority. He had learned that priorities mattered and will take us places. Indeed this is my first point. Marriage must be a priority that we are committed to in order to make it a trip worth taking.

 I can hear you saying,”Well DUH Mike”! Just stick with me. Commitments are really about goals. This is where any couple can completely blow it. Trips can be nice but if we disagree on the destination, we have troubles. Too many couples, including the Christian ones, take off on their little train trip of life long love with rosy feeling, warm hearts and good intentions. Some soon find themselves disappointed and going back to the conductor because they did not have tickets to the same locale.

Goals, mutual goals must be in place if we are committed to reaching them. Having no mutual goals means, you have no real commitment. Mutual goals must also be more than wanting to have children and raising them from the same page but this is a good start. Sadly, you would be surprised how many folks even overlook this before signing the papers. Here is my advice. Sit down together and talk about each others wants, needs, hopes and dreams.

 List them out, then begin to plan the short, middle, and long term plans to get to those relational destinations. In the effort, you will create mutual goals and mutual understanding. Even if the wants, hopes and dreams do not all come true. You will be fulfilling more than a few serious needs for a good and Godly marriage.

Even if you do not like making lists JUST SIT DOWN AND TALK! Take this advice and apply just half of what Jesus walked and talked about concerning, forgiveness, meekness, kindness and self-sacrifice. That is the example that will smooth out all of life’s travels. Then use those tickets for two on a trip well worth taking with a destination that is mutual and truly heavenly for those committed to getting there together.

November 19, 2010

Holiday Hype & Cheap Words

Thanks, has become a bit of a toss away term these days. Whether we are grabbing a coffee at the drive thru, setting up a follow-up appointment for a client or just picking up some dry cleaning, these all almost always end with a customary “Thanks” as we are promptly on our way. Little credence is placed in the sincerity of our words by the recipient.  Far less potential impact is made for real earnest thanks to lift someone’s spirit, especially our own. Indeed we can often make “Thanks” a near waste of the breath and effort used to form the word without a single thought about it. This is cheap thanks.

Thankfulness is really more of a point of view, a manner of being or an extension of our hearts condition. In short an attitude. We are made or wrecked by attitudes and the casualness or purposefulness we use to express them. When it comes to the quantity and quality of “Thanks” we have inside, I contend vital facets of our life, how we live it and the contentedness we find in it are defined. All this assessed easily by friends and strangers alike, in a word we hurl out as a daily pleasantry or rote transactional response.

We all have things to be thankful for and we all have things we think we simply deserve. These are the two opposite sides of a serious attitudinal coin. When our everyday lives get flipped around by circumstance which side comes up for each of us is not so much a question as a certainty. We made that choice by casual nonchalance or insightful purpose long before things got a bit whacky.

As we wind our way to that third Thursday in November, consider what lies beyond the hype of the holidays. Thanks is a blessed and highly spiritual state of being and Giving is so much better than receiving. If all you feel at this time of year is the pressure to visit family, prepare the proper menu and collecting the hottest gifts possible; ask yourself what this is about. Is it me and mine, them and theirs?  Or is it about what lies deep inside my own harried soul.

So as you pick up your next latte while the holiday music hums in the background just before you tell the clerk “Thanks”. Pause for a moment and weigh the statement. Is it the worth of the service, the value of the coffee purchased, the combined blessings of a lifetime or a simple rote set of manners that are prompting your words?

This may sound like a good way to back up a line at Mickey-D’s or a real overly introspective waste of time. In reality it may be a major adjustment  in how you define yourself, your circumstance and how much you get to impact both as well as those around you. That is a lot of potential bang from a single one syllable word that we can treat so cheaply! Indeed “Thanks” may be one of the most priceless words we ever utter to someone.

September 27, 2010

The Greater Groove

Some days just don’t fit the pattern. These days just seem out of sequence, I find the fab four and I settled in the middle of some days like this trying to remember what the goal of the day was. All I seem to come up with on these side track days is a blurred sense of repetition and rutted Dejavu.

It is sort of similar to listening to the radio in our mountainous part of the state. You’re blasting along grooving to a song or catching up on world events and around the turn and down the hollow wham, No signal. Fuzz and buzz, a word maybe here a note maybe there but nothing that makes sense or progresses the groove you just had going.

I believe I mentioned that I have a satellite radio. We also have a satellite navigation service. These have been the obvious and necessary solutions to my mountainous radio and unmarked roads problems. The signal comes down from so high that no mountain or valley can completely stop it. That signal is always there, but you have to have the receiver, have it turned on and pay your monthly fees.

Of course I’m not writing this to encourage you to buy more entertainment services or to add more technology to your life. God in your everyday life is the goal. He’s there. He is the supernatural solution to being able to understand, navigate and hear more clearly.

Some days we’re in a groove and changes in plans or unforeseen reality stops the music. We lose the beat and are left without harmony. Other days we are just trying to understand what’s happening. Curiosities, anxieties, spectacle or an unintentional wrong turn have captured our attention or left us wandering. Developing events have distracted us with creeping uncertainties; peace, direction and stillness seem long gone.

Some days at home when noses are running and someone has gotten into the colorfast markers the many layered and absorbent needs of the household can make the day seem dry and colorless compared to what might be going on just outside. Or it seems setbacks; adversities and isolation have overshadowed purpose, victory and relationships. This is the time to turn your receiver on.

I like nap time. I don’t take naps but most days this is where that out in orbit connection can make a chord out of the disjointed notes even if the day stays off track. Or the eye in the sky can tell us where to turn to get back home. I find the signal and recapture the groove. Peace and purpose come back into focus. I rejoin the afternoon renewed and reminded of the preciousness I’ve been granted as the crew comes back rested and ready for action.

Don’t let the day leave you stuck at a congested corner of your mind wondering which way to turn. Turn on your receiver. Give God some time don’t place Him in a “break in case of emergency box”. If don’t have your own receiver well, we need to talk about Jesus and where your heart and focus is. If you will give Him your trust, some priority time and some sincere thanks, He will reign down that signal on you in every season of your life everywhere you go with no commercial interruptions and no monthly fees.

Tune in and remember he has you right here right now for the right reason. The reason might be refinement, restoration or unfathomable but the groove has high walls, a great beat, built-in navigation assistance and the destination is truly heavenly.

By Mike Poff

Prayer and Ponderance

Find a quiet moment, just you no TV, Radio, wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers. Read over these verses and take in a bit of God’s peace. Be still, be thankful and ask God to expand your hearts’ capacity for peace, patience, love and understanding. Even in the mess of this day know He will hear you and meet your need.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Mark 4:38-40

Psalms 46:10-11

Jot down anything you feel the Spirit of the Lord is saying to you today.

Jot down anything He has done for you today.

Know He Loves You!

Thank Him and prepare to rejoin the wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers and share the love.

September 26, 2010

Mess Management

It seems to me that much in life is a lot like potty training. Then again perhaps, I am a bit to introspective at times. Bear with me though.

Of my six children three are girls and three are boys. My first two daughters were loving sweet healthy singlets. The last four came three boys and one girl all at once, all similarly sweet, loving and healthy. My oldest daughter was potty trained just after her second birthday. My next daughter was potty trained by her second birthday in no small part thanks to her older sister. My third daughter was potty trained also not long after her second birthday. My three sons, well they are a different story altogether. Yes boys are different, quads are different and each one of the six is very much different and truly individual but, all of them must be potty trained. It is required. I did mention our having Quads before?

I find myself sometimes wishing for a supernatural impartation of wisdom to my children, especially but not exclusively to my three sons. In the area of potty mastery if they could just rise above their tender years to the place where we could reason together about hygiene, laundry, time management and odor I like to think it would just click into position for them. However, who wants to wish their lives away. I wouldn’t trade anything with anyone for the place and time I’ve been given, potty training and all. In time at their realization of the need without fear or threat but with firm encouragement and affirmation I know that they will get this. In fact we’re very close.

If you cook you dirty dishes. If you build you compile scrap. If you paint you make dribbles. It’s just a fact that people make messes. Young people, old people all people; you can’t accomplish much without making a little mess. The catch is learning to anticipate, minimize and manage our mess.

Messes happen and don’t just go away. We must decide if we want to leave the mess, carry it with us or figure out how we’re going to clean it up. One of the first hurdles is learning to identify a mess. Until we reach the realization that some thing on us, around or because of us is a mess it will seem hidden and we will seem oblivious. Potty training is about realizing a particular activity as being messy and determining to take care of this mess and not waiting or relying on someone else to do it for you. If you do it to for the approval of someone else, at some point you’ll be angry or disappointed with them. You may be tempted to use not managing your mess to get back at them. If you do it out of fear of dire punishment, the first time the fear feels removed you might well regress to prove your freedom and your control of the mess making process. Or if you do it out of peer pressure, approval or keeping-up-itise you may never find any satisfaction in your accomplishment or growth.

If we are seeking God and seeking to progress in Him, grow spiritual fruit, experience sanctification, leave behind our childish ways. We must also learn to anticipate minimize and manage the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual messes we will encounter, are currently carrying or will sometimes create. Babies are cute. But the infant stage is very time consuming and messy. We can’t be Christian babes all our lives. We can’t expect our pastors, priests, elders or kindly mentors to spoon feed us and keep us clean forever and they should not expect us to let them. We must embrace, hear and receive from these people what God puts in our lives about Faith, Hope and Love and how being outside of these makes a mess in our lives. We must not make the mistake of relying on them to always be the same and to be right there whenever we cry out or make the mistake of mistaking them for God Himself. People change, grow and often go. Make mistakes, have bad days and just plain make messes. We must anticipate and leave room for their humanity and ours or when we see it rear up we may be let down, unmerciful and make a mess. They can be our spiritual parents if we will be humble enough to let them. If they do their job right we will learn to identify, anticipate, minimize and manage our messes by walking in Faith, Hope and Love. Then go on to teach and clean up others.

We all learn the same required things differently at different rates for sometimes different reasons. Remember my three sons. How about Fred Mac Murray? Oh well I digress. My boys are a bit more labor intensive at this stage but that’s not a shame on them or guilt on me. The effort made and patience shown may make the victory sweeter and the lesson more long lasting for them. For me when potty training is said and done I’m afraid it will be a bitter-sweet victory. In reality it is just another layer of letting go so they can grow. A conquered stage where I am no longer needed for direction.

Try remembering this as you are pointing out the cheerios bobbing in the bowl it might grant you a bit more patience with the process. In many ways it can be an insight into The Fathers loving heart towards us and appreciation for those who are praying, working and waiting for us to grow a bit. Or help us to grant more Grace to those with whom God may have us walking with that are taking more time than most to master their messes.

By Mike Poff

Prayer and Ponderance

Find a quiet moment, just you no TV, Radio, wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers. Read over these verses and take in a bit of God’s peace. Be still, be thankful and ask God to expand your hearts’ capacity for peace, patience, love and understanding. Even in the mess of this day know He will hear you and meet your need.

1st Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 5:22-25

Micah 6: 8

Jot down anything you feel the Spirit of the Lord is saying to you today.

Jot down anything He has done for you today.

Know He Loves You!

Thank Him and prepare to rejoin the wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers and share.

September 21, 2010

Encouragement at Eye Level

 Everyone seems to have their own areas of constricted progression. You know places where personal construction is on going and the area is more than a bit cluttered and chaotic. Emotional flagers are there flailing away for you to detour, slow down or just plain stop. Whether you call them phobias, fears or just the outside of your comfort zone, we all have them.

Prolonged procrastination in them or around the entranceway can be as rewarding as being caught in four lanes of rubber-necking freeway frustration, baking in the all out August heat with a car load of agitated adolescents and testy toddlers. These are places you want to get to and go through quickly. Things get better once you do. That is until you spy the next manic banner that’s waving to contest your progress.

During one resent family vacation it became obvious that there was something encouraging to be said about how our wee ones were facing down their toddler’s trepidations together as the wide world unfolds around them.

 At home we have a swimming pool. The pool is nice but has an underground pump room that has been exceptional snake habitat for many years. Much personal growth has come from this one dread area of my property but that is a story for another day. Here framed by the beauteous Blue Ridge the children splash and frolic all except for “Chesca”…

You know in all the commotion I have realized I never gave you any names for my young ones. We’ll hold off the full and formal introductions for another more focused effort. For now I can tell you Chesca does not share her siblings enthusiasm for pool partying. Interestingly she does like the ocean. For hours she was all fun and frolic on the edge of Florida’s gulf coast. At home daddy, mommy nor big sisters could coax her into anything but a large float and a lap. At the beach tiny crabs and fleeting silver minnows beware. Chesca was wet and on the hunt.

My amusement at this development was dampened a bit by Jon-Jon’s’ sudden reluctance to get wet. Jon-Jon is the blue-eyed bruiser of the group. At the pool he would dive in. He would dive on pool toys. He would dive on any unsuspecting relation or close friend and do it with glee. At the ocean, waves were unexpected and seemed more able to tumble unsuspecting toddlers than he was on one of his best days.

Try as we might, neither daddy, mommy nor big sisters either were drawing him into all that froth and swell. One morning after a good hour of catching the fleeting silver minnows and showing them to the transfixed troupe, I had everyone on the expedition expect Jon-Jon. Waves you know, a bad business if you’re three-foot three. Finally instead of making him more frustrated, I just went out deeper where the older girls were. Mom was watching the troupe from just past the break line.

In just a few moments time I looked back to the frolicking four and low and behold, there is Chesca walking Jon-Jon out talking a mile a minute. His two brothers Tan-Tan the dark-haired and entertaining and Chew-Chew the red-headed and wry were waving and chorusing, “come on Jon-Jon, its awight”. In less than five minutes Jon-Jon took the invitation we had been placing before him for days. From then on Jon-Jon was a part of the party waves, froth, fish and all.

Once again I could feel that tap on my spiritual shoulder letting me know this was more than just family fun in the sun. I realized watching my son and his siblings that we are all sometimes a bit too selective in whom we can receive and believe. Not in the sense that we should be gullible but in the sense of proportions. To Jon-Jon it was easy for six foot me to stand in the three foot swells and say it would be fine for three foot three inch him too. I was telling him the truth. What ever happened I would move all the small bits of heaven and earth I could to keep him safe but just like Jon-Jon sometimes we need more than a “big persons” assurances.

I can think of times when “big people” told me things I should have believed, advice to change friends, avoid various vices. Encouragement to focus on subjects that seemed to have no relevance to reality, as I then saw reality. People we perceive as having arrived in an area can be tuned out at the worst possible times. Some times it takes those right there beside us to make a truth acceptable and seem desirable. Those that appear similarly hip deep in the minutia do not have to reach so far to grasp our hands. Their words can be confident whispers and their expressions warm and connecting. The truth, even the truth in love can fall short of its full impact. Unless we are finding a relevant proportion to the source from which it is flowing.

In all the fuss and fury that can be found in quad parenting, I have found the deepest compassion for those that are struggling with their efforts towards their growing bundles of joy. My wife and I both reach out all we can to encourage and edify those we find around us. My prayer is that we and our situation don’t make us appear too “Big” to be received from. Constricted progression and personal construction can seem fearful and futile if all you hear is a voice you think is through that tunnel. How could they know what obstacles have recently arisen or just dropped down?

Some times we need the encouragement of those that we feel are at our own eye level and just a step ahead to break the inertia in our momentum. As the now fully united fab four found more fun in the sun there in the Gulf swells I was left contemplating the breakthroughs awaiting them. What part they would play in each others advance up the rising incline towards physical, emotional and spiritual maturity.

How many times my wife and I might point out the preferable path but only be planting seeds others would water and reap and how many times we had already missed being a shoe horn of hope for those caught beside us just outside their comfort zones. Prayer and Ponderance Find a quiet moment, just you no TV, Radio, wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers. Read over these verses and take in a bit of God’s peace. Be still, be thankful and ask God to expand your hearts’ capacity for peace, patience, love and understanding. Even in the mess of this day know He will hear you and meet your need.

photos by

 Galatians 6:1-6

 Luke 10:30-37

 Ephesians 4:1-3

John 3:11-21

Write down the first person that comes to mind when you think about sharing the struggles you have faced. Consider how your experience and successes might encourage them. Purpose to look for the wounded and passed by and be willing to be a shoe horn of hope to them. Think about Jesus and His feelings about those that rejected Him and the Truth he placed at their Feet. Then read Galatians 6:9-10 Thank Him and embrace all He wants to do through you to lift up your brothers and sisters in and outside of His Kingdom. Now prepare to rejoin the wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers and walk out your divine appointments!