Jennifer and the Missing 1st Class Passenger

If you’re like most people I know, you like to have your flight schedule nailed down. You know what seat you’re in, when you need to leave home, and when you’re going to board. But, it’s not just in traveling… a plan gives some peace and assurance. Many of us have plans for our marriages, work, finances, kids, spiritual growth, volunteer work, and physical health. When those plans don’t come together or a wrench is thrown into the works, stress, angst and even anger are many times the order of the day! It’s particularly tough when you don’t know until the very end whether it’s going to work or not!

That’s where Jennifer and the missing 1st class passenger come in… and by the way… thank you to both of them, whoever and wherever they may be!

Sara and I were given “Buddy Passes” for our trip from Austin to Denver a few weeks ago. The way it works is you are put on the standby list and hopefully you get a seat! The challenge is that you are put on the bottom of the list. All other passengers take precedence. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. A little nervous, we kept asking and watching, but no answers.  Boarding began. Then an announcement over the airport system… “The lower level has been shut down for a possible bomb and we are evacuating that level. The bomb squad is investigating so at this time no one is allowed to leave or enter. No action needs to be taken by the people on the concourse.” Can you imagine what everyone was thinking… the lower level isn’t that far away… a bomb could take it all out… are you kidding us!!!!

And then… “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get out of this place! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight is already full.” What? I’ve got to get there but I can’t leave Sara behind with a bomb! A sick feeling in my gut. Sara urging me to take the seat. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger who had already checked in online… Jennifer! After what seemed to be an eternity… no Jennifer… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed her boarding. No Jennifer!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! As we taxied, there sure was a lot of traffic backed up… probably because of the bomb scare. THANK YOU JENNIFER!

getting a standby seat to go home So what did I learn? Reflecting on the experience, I thought about how we are called to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives and, even though we have it all planned out, He may have different plans for us that may not even revealed until the last minute. So, how can I… we… be more open to changes and the dynamic life we’re called to live? By watching, listening, learning and following our Savior closer and closer each day wherever and whenever He takes us… even at the last moment! What a great lesson! That will probably show up in a sermon someday! Confidently and boldly… feeling pretty proud of myself… I thought, I can handle this much better now!

So after an eventful few days, we were looking forward to getting back to Texas. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. Standby list looked pretty full… boarding progresses. “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get back home! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight out is already full.” What!!! How is this going to work? No car or place in Colorado… how will we handle the Texas end? Let’s check other flights… maybe we can buy some tickets. $900… that won’t work. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger… a 1st Class passenger! After what seemed to be an eternity… no passenger yet… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed him boarding. No 1st Class passenger!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! THANK YOU MISSING 1st CLASS PASSENGER!

So what did I really learn? That it’s really hard to fully give up our plans, our will, our future, our kids, our families, and marriages to God. How are you at that? God asks us to give it all up to the Creator of the universe… the one who controls nature… the one who provides every single thing we have. My prayer is that you and I both learn the peace, joy and freedom in living that way. It may not work out in the way or timing we want, but we know that it will work together for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

-Gerry

Challenged by Continual Change!

change_road_signOne of the difficulties we all deal with is continual change… a lack of permanency in work, home, family, church, school, politics, and friends. The constant ebb and flow of people in and out of day-to-day living takes its toll. Of the Top 20 stressors in life, job change, moving house, and lack of friendships made the list. If we’re honest, as guys we tend to just suck it up and gut our way through all of these.

In this ever-changing world, there are so many questions. How deep do I want to go with that neighbor? Do I even want to make an effort to plug into a church or be a part of a faith community… who knows how long and at what level I can be involved? With all my current responsibilities, I may not be able to make a difference so should I even get involved in the civic realm? Change and the dynamic, transient nature of today’s world can bring unsettledness, fear, loneliness, and even a sense of depression. Most of us as guys don’t even want to think about these emotions and if we don’t, they don’t exist… right? Wrong! We will have to deal with them sooner or later!

The good news is that God never changes. In Hebrews 13:8 it says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” But who is this one true God? Throughout time God has shown that He is a God of mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. He’s also shown that He is a God of grace. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Even when people failed, rebelled against Him, and even murdered His Son on the Cross, he forgave them and restored them. It’s only in Him that we can get rest, have true relationships, be forgiven, experience true love, and have peace in the midst of change and turmoil. He wants that full life for you and those you know. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

More good news. God leads the way and is always with you. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In Joshua 1:9, God speaks to Joshua but also speaks to you and me. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Think about this, the Creator of all things is with you wherever you go!

So how can you experience this full life in the midst of all the change and turmoil? A great starting point is to get plugged into a Christian, worshiping community no matter how much time you think you have! Let me be clear… when I say “plugged in” I mean at least weekly. God has given us community to help experience His love, forgiveness, and grace. Hebrews 10:23-26 encourages us to “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It’s in a healthy Christian community that you can be encouraged when things look bleak, you can experience strength, support, and forgiveness when the world gives otherwise. You can find rest and refuge in a difficult world. My prayer for you is that you experience the fullness of life in Christ in spite of what the world throws at you!

To all who are in the midst of change right now…

As you go on your way, may God go with you.
May God go before you to show you the way.
May God go behind you to encourage you,
beside you to befriend you,
above you to watch over you, 
below you to support you,
within you to give you peace.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen

-Gerry

May 2017 Newsletter Friendship

Plutarch Quote

I have a confession to make, I am a horrible friend. Some of you know that first hand. I don’t call often, and who writes anymore, and since I hate social media I don’t connect well there either. But, I have a feeling that I’m not the only bad friend out there. If what I see is true in the men around me, a lot of us don’t do friendships well. To be clear, I’m talking about male friendships that go beyond, “Did you see the game?”, “What’d you do to your yard to make it green?”, or “We need some rain.” I’m talking about friendships that are deep enough that the one knows when something is going on with the other without being told. Where help is given without being asked to help. I’ll say it; Where there’s LOVE. Brotherly love. So this month’s newsletter is focused on manly friendship.

Read

The History of Male Friendships | The Art of Manliness

It has been said that female friendships can be pictured as two women facing one another, while male friendships can be symbolized as two men standing side by size, looking outwards. So here’s to having a buddy, a brother to take on the world with. Long live man friendship.

Male friendships today do not look like they used to. There are several reasons in the article for the difference; the modern shift in the idea of homosexuality from an act to an identity, workplace competition, and increased mobility have driven us apart.

Breaking the Male Code: A Guy’s Guide to Friendship The Good Men Project

Your commitment to a friend is better demonstrated by staying in regular contact. Face-to-face meetings are best, but scheduled phone calls will work if you’re living far apart.

Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Texting is little better. Twitter, nope, not going to do it either. Face to face time is the best way to connect with anyone, especially if you consider them a friend. Yup, it takes time. But, time well spent. Time will pay infinite dividends in the future for both.

10 Reasons Guys Need Male Friends in the ChurchChuck Lawless

We can model godly friendships for teen males. Young men (and older men, for that matter) can quickly move conversations and actions in ungodly directions. They need to see that it’s possible to enjoy time with other guys without compromising God’s standards.

Where will our sons find examples of how men should be? On TV? Ha. The internet? Good Lord, NO! They need to watch you. When they watch you, Dad, they will also see your friends. You having good friends will help your son navigate life that much better.

Watch

Francis Chan: Guys don’t need friends as much as you think

You know what I think about Jesus and his focus like the greatest command is loving the Lord your God and so that relationship with him has to be first. Because we have we have to be careful, that while I agree men primarily under emphasize relationship and friendship we can also overemphasize it and expect so much from each other that’s things that only God can give us.

So, every relationship begins with sinners. Broken people. We bring our sinfulness into every relationship. So, we need God in the midst of that relationship. We will need grace, forgiveness, and mercy.  The cord of three strands verse isn’t just for marriage, it’s for friendships too.

Listen

Middle-Aged Men Need More Friends – On Point

“As mapped out in my article, disconnecting from friends is incredibly bad for your long-term health. Shockingly bad. Like ‘this reporter sounds like he’s laying it on thick’ bad. I was not. Study after study after study all tell you the same thing.”

Get good friends or die early. As simple as that. Read the article HERE.

 

Here are my takeaways from researching male friendships:

  • It is God-honoring to have and nurture intimate relationships with other men. (If you read a sexual connotation into that you have been brainwashed by our society. Intimacy does not equal sex)
  • It will help you live longer
  • It will make you a better husband and father
  • It will have a positive impact on your sons when they get older
  • Most men are to “busy” to nurture friendships. By the way, “You’re Not Too Busy.”

Do you need to connect with a friend? Reconnect? Sign up for the Whetstone Backpacking Trip. For a limited time, sign up with a buddy and you each get $25 off your registration. Get signed up HERE. Choose the “Buddy” option.

Stay Sharp,

Matt

Is it well with your soul?

The big question for us all… “Is it well with my soul?”

In the chaos of life, don’t you sometimes wonder about that? In our move to Texas and through all of the things that have happened since, there have been times that were unsettling at best and at worst, making me question whether it was well with my soul. I’m sure you’ve been there too. There’s a lot in life that attempts to rob us of joy destroy our peace and make us question our self-worth and purpose in life.

Raising kids, taking care of elderly parents, corporate climbing, being a good dad and husband, being a Jesus follower, also all bring their own sets of “growth opportunities!”  It seems especially challenging when you’ve done everything you thought was right and it still doesn’t turn out the way you had anticipated. Questions like… Am I the right guy for this?… Who am I to think that I deserve or can do this?… How could God forgive someone as broken as me?… I’m not good enough to be what God has called me to be as a parent, spouse, disciple, etc.… I fail so much, should I just give up trying so hard? Does any of this resonate with you?

Did you know that sometimes… no, I would even say most of the time, those closest to you can answer the big question better than anyone else? When it is well, our reaction to life is different and they see that. Failures don’t rob us of our self-worth. Challenges don’t derail our journey. Joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. There truly is a different peace. The one spoke of in Philippians 4:7.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV) 

You see, true peace, true contentment and soul wellness only comes through Jesus Christ… and it’s something that is beyond our comprehension. It’s something that isn’t shaken by circumstances, failures, or even death itself. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, told his disciples that he was going to die… devastating news, but then he said…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV) 

Those words are for you and me. Even in the midst of the darkest times, you can have hope and His peace.

So, I bet you may be thinking, how can I fix it? As guys, we like action items! Going back to the Philippians passage helps us understand some practices that will help. Here they are…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)

So, did you catch it? Be in prayer, give thanks for all things, and control what you think about! So guys, here’s our challenge this week. Experiment doing more of just one of the three. Maybe pray one more time each day…or look back on the day and thank God for the things you see… or be mindful of what you read, listen to or watch and don’t let anything that is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable sneak in.

As you start practicing these more and more, you will understand in a much deeper way that “it is truly well with your soul.” Not because you worked at it enough or got it totally figured out. But for one reason and one reason only… it’s in Christ Jesus that you truly have that peace. As His dearly beloved child… a member of the Kingdom of God, you can be assured of that. Even when you fail, don’t feel like it, or question everything… it’s in Christ alone that your worth is beyond measure. It’s in Christ’s strength that you can be what He wants you to be. It’s in Christ’s forgiveness that you can keep going in the midst of sin and failures. It’s in Jesus that it is well with your soul! And those around you will see it!

My prayer for us all…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV) 

Brothers… It is well… because of Jesus!

through it all

This song has really resonated with me lately… Kristene DiMarco, It is Well. I hope it encourages you!

-Gerry

 

He Wept

crying-face

So guys… I’m going to broach a topic that we’re all pretty goosey about… emotions and crying. I’m going to get real transparent too. You see, a few weekends ago I had to announce that we were leaving… and I wept. Yeah… not just a few tears or a sniffle or two… I wept. I couldn’t help it, control it, or even prevent it from happening. The only thing I could do was take a walk and try to compose myself… which was only partially successful. But… it made me think.

You see, over my life, I’ve been known to stuff emotions. I know none of you probably ever have done that! 😉 Most of us have been trained…

…Keep a stiff upper lip, don’t let them see you cry, don’t be a crybaby, you have to be the strong one, strong men don’t cry, cry privately if you have to cry, if anyone sees you cry they’ll think you’re weak, you’ll lose respect if you lose it as a leader… on and on.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized stuffing it has taken a toll on me and those around me. The longer I kept everything stuffed, the squirrelier I got. I got more reactive, sometimes less sensitive, anger flared easier, the more focused and driven I got… all to my own detriment and, to my chagrin, damaged relationships. Sometimes I can’t stuff it anymore and it all comes out in a… please don’t judge me… a private cry fest. And then to add to my consternation… it makes me feel better!

Guys… deal with and show your emotions… shed some tears… it’s okay in the right setting. If you need something science to justify it, an article in Medical Daily, by Lizette Borreli, says there are six health benefits to shedding a few tears:

  1. Releases toxins
  2. Kills bacteria
  3. Improves vision
  4. Improves mood
  5. Relieves stress
  6. Boosts communication

But you may say… that’s written by a woman. They always cry. How about this… in a blog post about how tough it is for men to cry, Derek Whitney said:

“Until recently, many cultures believed that tears were a sign of manliness. World history and literature are filled with male leaders who cried publicly. Tears meant that a man lived by a code of values and cared enough to show emotion when things went wrong. Medieval warriors and Japanese samurai cried during times of epic tragedy. In Western culture, a man’s capacity to cry indicated his honesty and integrity. Abraham Lincoln used strategic tears during his speeches, and modern presidents have followed suit. Despite all this, until recently, men shedding tears have been viewed as less than masculine.” 

I also liked his point in the article that there are definitely times that shedding tears isn’t the best… times that it’s better to be the calm, collected, strong guy. So guys… here’s some advice… deal with your emotions when they happen if the situation is right. If you feel like you need to shed some tears, do it. I’ve come to realize that many people see it as a sign of strength… being willing to be vulnerable and genuine while still being strong. If you want even more encouragement, check out what many claim to be the shortest passage in the Bible about Jesus… God himself:

Jesus wept.  John 11:35

Jesus Christ, our Savior, Creator, Redeemer, Word made flesh, Light of the world… wept… even when he knew the outcome.

Is there something going on in your life or from your past that you haven’t dealt with and it would help to shed a few tears?

You have permission… Jesus himself wept!

Come on scaredy cat!

wavesDon’t be such a scaredy cat… nothing will happen… just try it… I won’t let anything happen to you… there’s nothing to be afraid of. I remember saying that to my kids quite often… trying to chide them into doing something new and exciting. When my patience wore thin… I have to admit that it wasn’t always said with a loving, caring attitude…. but more out of frustration and impatience. Why couldn’t they just be as adventuresome as I was and just trust me?

This week I had the privilege of spending some awesome time with our grandkids at the gulf. I was excited to get out into the water and waves and experience it with them but they were pretty hesitant… afraid of many things. When I started looking at the whole experience from their perspective, it changed my whole view. What I realized was that their hesitation to go deeper into the surf… beyond the breakers… was because they had not experienced it… it was a big scary unknown. They had not had anyone guide, teach or help them know how to deal with the surf, the big waves or even the possibility of jellyfish. So after teaching them how to stand, when to jump, what to watch for… slowly helping them experience progressively deeper water and bigger waves… they soon began to relax and actually enjoy it. The experience moved from one of hesitation, fear and resistance to joy and the desire to do more… to experience more. There was music to my ears when I heard them say… with big grins on their faces… this is fun!

I thought about the underlying lesson about parenting and walking through life with those around me. Instead of looking at hesitation or fear as some character flaw or weakness, I realized that in most cases it’s just about not having the experience or having someone with experience to walk alongside. We all need others to keep from being frozen by fear or to be slowed down by the unknown.

To get in deeper water or to gain the skills and confidence to navigate the big waves of life, who can you help… who do you need to learn from?

What experiences in life has God given you that can help others when the waves come?

January Whetstone Newsletter

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Welcome to a New Year! Every year I do goal setting in November or December for the coming year. At times I forget them or give up on them.  But what I’ve come to realize is that I don’t need a New Year to start. Every day is new and a chance to begin again. Even if you’ve given up your New Year’s resolution or goal, you can start again too.

“His mercies are new every morning.” Lam 3:23

 

Articles of the Month 

Preparing for a New Beginning with a New YearStephen W. Smith

“Every New Year begins the opportunity for us to begin again. What didn’t work this past year now has the chance for transformation”

Steve’s articles are fast becoming a monthly feature here on the Whetstone. In this one, Steve gives us 5 challenges to implement this New Year. The one I want to implement: Live a life of rhythm. Which one strikes you the most? Why? Let me know via email by replying to this email or commenting below the newsletter on the website.

 

Addicted to DistractionTony Schwartz

“Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life. By that definition, nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet. It has arguably replaced work itself as our most socially sanctioned addiction.”

When we give our attention to one thing, we’re denying something else of our attention. For me, it’s always the people around me. And, I’m telling them that something else is more important than they are. I wouldn’t ever tell my kids that a cat video is more important than they are, but I do it when I give my attention to that instead of them. Who or what are you giving importance to by your attention?

 

At the Intersection of Vulnerability and MasculinityJacob Mcmillen

[ctt title=”Sometimes there seems to be a war between vulnerability and masculinity. But it’s a false war.” tweet=”Sometimes there seems to be a war between vulnerability and masculinity. But it’s a false war. Jacob Mcmillen http://ctt.ec/077DM+ ” coverup=”077DM”]

Fellas, we need each other. We aren’t designed to fight through life alone. God has given us each other so we don’t have to endure our struggles alone.

 

Hack the Facebook Algorithm for Spiritual Growth Marc Alan Schelske

“The Facebook algorithm that determines what posts you can see is already impacting you this way. Those silly memes, political rants, passive aggressive vaguebook posts, and all the pictures of everyone else’s’ best moments are shaping how you feel about yourself and the world. Anything that impacts your mood will also impact your relationships.”

I recently deleted my Facebook account for about 6 months because it was impacting how I viewed others. I needed a clean break for awhile. Now that I’m back on, Marc’s article gave me some useful tips on being more intentional on my Facebook use.

 

One Question That Can Change the Way You Do LifeMatt Rise

“The question that distills my complicated reasoning to the essence of the struggle is:

Which do you choose: Discipline or regret?”

ICYMI: My first ever actual blog post for the Whetstone. The more I think about it, most of the choices in life come down to choosing between discipline or regret. And most come down to either a long term or short term “reward”. Stick to the diet or regret. Save money or regret. Keep your integrity or regret.

“On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1Tim 4:7

 

Podcast of the Month

Parenting Without FearRansomed Heart

First, before you listen to this, I do have questions on some of the the theology presented. So listen with a critical ear. And if you have some insight, please comment below or reply to the email.

Fear based parenting decisions. We all do it or have done it. The antidote: parenting with the long term relationship in mind. The Ransomed Heart guys talk about their experiences in parenting out of fear and with preserving a relationship in mind. It’s an aspect of parenting that I’ve had a hard time with: wanting immediate results/compliance and seeing the long term with my kids. What’s been your experience?

 

 

App of the Month

Evernote

Evernote has to be one of my favorite apps/service of all time. I don’t usually pay for apps or web services, but this is one that I do (They have a free service too). I went paperless several years ago and Evernote has become my file cabinet and project manager. I’ve planned vacations with it. I plan the Whetstone with it too. It’s available on every platform and device you can think of.

Get a free month of Evernote Premium here (I get one too if you do).

 

Stay Sharp!

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