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Fishing was fun but what happened next, I will never forget

Image credit: jerryb7 / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: jerryb7 / 123RF Stock Photo


Catching night crawlers is one of my favorite childhood memories. My dad and I would go into our garden at night and grab the slimy worms quick in just the right way so they wouldn’t disappear back into their holes. I loved collecting them in anticipation of fishing the next day.

One particular summer day my dad, mom, younger sister and I took our worms and went fishing at nearby MacKay reservoir. Usually we found a spot along the bank but this time we fished off the dam. I can’t remember much about the fishing, I suppose it was a lot of my dad baiting the hook with the night crawlers and me casting them into the greenish water.

Not long after we got set up fishing, a group of people came to play at the dam. They carried inner tubes and started swimming in the cool water not far from where we were fishing. I remember watching as each guy curled up inside an inner tube then rolled down the slope of the dam splashing into the water. It looked like fun and the entire group was laughing and having a great time. I’m not sure how long we attempted to fish while they splashed nearby; mostly I remember what happened next.

One of the guys didn’t come up.

The laughing quickly turned to concern then to frantic searching in the murky water. The next part of my memory consists mostly of the flashing red lights of the ambulance. I learned later my dad drove our truck to a nearby house to call 9-1-1. Emergency workers had difficulty finding the missing swimmer due to poor visibility. They eventually found him but he didn’t make it.

Experiences matter. Highly emotional experiences tend to hold enormous meaning throughout our lifetime. They shape us to the core and formulate our reactions.

For me and my younger sister the drowning at MacKay Reservoir was an experience we will never forget. The meaning I carry with me today from this experience is a distrust of horseplay around water. I tend to be extra vigilant of carelessness.

It’s less important what the experience was; the critically important part is the meaning associated with the experience. Some seemingly significant events have little to no impact long term and other situations, which seem minor, can resonate for a lifetime. If I had known the person who died or the reactions of my parents had been different, the experience may have had an even more dramatic emotional impact.

The impact of meaningful events is especially noticeable in marriage. You need to know the experiences of your spouse and meaning they gained from them.

Sometimes it’s difficult to put to words the meaning associated with an experience. The more you practice identifying the meaning derived from situations, the better you can explain it to your spouse. The better the meaning is relayed the better you will understand each other.

Your experiences have shaped you. It’s important for your spouse to understand the meaning you carry with you today.

Comment below to share how your experiences have impacted you.

Be happy AND stay married

Many things in life are posed as an either or proposition. Paper OR plastic, boxers OR briefs, be a good parent OR go to work, be content OR be successful.


At times when life is especially stressful it may feel like you can only be a great parent OR a great spouse. Then when things really hit the fan it may feel like you have to choose to either be happy OR be married.


I like the Coke Zero commercial that emphasizes AND. The commercial shows a young man in a less than ideal situation, then he asks for something AND something else, the more he asks AND? The better things get for him.

My son, like all toddlers, asked Why? constantly. When he tired of that, he changed it slightly to And?

Dad: Finish your lunch please.

Son: And?

Dad: When you finish your lunch you can have a piece of candy

Son: And?

Dad: And you can have an apple if you want

Son: And?

Dad: And then lunch will be over

Son: And?

Dad: I see what you are up to

Son: And?

Dad: And I love you

Son: And?

The sequence continues until I teasingly call him ANDy and start a tickle fight.

A recent Ford commercial highlights the silliness of having only one option. Bottom line, AND is better.



Too many times in life we believe we only have the option to have one thing or another. Our thinking is limited to polar opposite options. Conservative or liberal, pro this or con that. Thinking only black OR white is an option ends in vilifying others, discontentment and fear.

Consider adding AND to your thinking and your life. It’s not inconsistent or waffling, it’s having both. Become ANDy in your marriage and you can:

Be content AND strive for excellence. Save money AND live extravagantly. Love your spouse AND your kids.

Have a successful career AND be a good parent. Like football AND the orchestra. Be happy AND stay married.


Bonus Make some Wonderful Marriage tip: Discuss this post with your spouse AND start a tickle fight with them tonight.


Please share the things you have said AND to in your life.

More than Decoration

A bird and a fish live in a bowl on my desk. I guess it’s decoration to anyone curious enough to notice.

I made the bowl myself in college. When I first enrolled at Northwest Nazarene University I had no idea what my major should be. I knew I enjoyed art classes in high school so I tried my hand at pottery. The blue ceramic bowl on my desk didn’t impress anyone, but I still have it. When I see it I think of my college days and my time with the pottery wheel. Today, as every day now, the bowl holds a bird and a fish.


A number of years ago I took two separate trips to South America. The first trip was to Venezuela. My wife and I went with a group from our church to serve the people of Venezuela with a work project. Nazarene missionaries John and Shirley Fischer directed our efforts in clearing the grass, making cement, and laying bricks in the tropical humidity. While working I tried to talk to the local people but my intentions were better than my Spanish. Venezuela is best known as a land flowing with oil and dictatorship. Now I know more, I know the Venezuelan people I encountered and my experience of their culture. When I see the Balsa wood bird in my bowl, I remember my time in Venezuela and the people I met in the tropical mountains.

The second trip to South America was different than the first. Four years after our trip to Venezuela we went to Ecuador. College friends Dan and Kristina Benedick were medical missionaries in Shell, Ecuador. We decided to visit them- with our 18 month old son. Foreign travel is usually an adventure, traveling to another country with a toddler is nothing but an adventure. Torrential Ecuadorian rain, road demolishing mud slides, puking kid, canoeing the Amazon, and eating ants followed during those wild days in Ecuador. While chewing on sugarcane I purchased the small balsa wood fish that reminds me of our adventures and the people of Ecuador.


A fish and a bird live in a bowl on my desk but mostly it holds experiences.


It’s on my desk not because the items have value but because the experiences they represent matter.


The adventures represented on my desk and many other meaningful experiences have shaped me to the core.

Your experiences have done the same for you and your marriage.


Adventures are a great way to build connection in marriage.


Be curious enough today to notice how your experiences have shaped you, then invest in learning about your spouse’s experiences. They are more than decoration.   


What objects do you have that hold memories or meaningful experiences?


Image credit: ljupco / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: ljupco / 123RF Stock Photo

Valentine’s Day cards idealize kisses. Poets daydream about kisses and kisses make kids giggle. Experienced couples know kisses come in all types.

 Long kisses. Quick kisses, goodbye kisses and hello! kisses.

 Kisses in the morning, kisses in the evening.

 Slow romantic kisses under the stars.

 Affectionate kisses, first kisses, and wedding day kisses.

 Sweet little kisses and morning breath sour kisses.

A quick kiss before rushing to work is good. Spending time kissing is entirely better. Sometimes life gets busy and it’s easy to live together without ever being close. Kissing requires you to be close on purpose. Informing your spouse you love them doesn’t always require words; a kiss can do the trick no matter what type you choose.

Compatible Enough

Image credit: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo

Compatibility is helpful for successful relationships.
Compatibility is basically the extent to which your past experiences and resulting perspectives align with your spouse’s. The more your experiences are similar the easier it is to understand your spouse.

If your experiences with religion are similar, it will be easier to agree on what matters about God, which religious activities to participate in and which to avoid. The more your experiences with sex, money, children, education, and family are similar, the easier it is to agree on what matters, which activities to participate in and which to avoid.

The problem with compatibility is, there is no way to determine how much compatibility is needed for a marriage to thrive. There is no magic formula or compatibility quotient that will guarantee a great marriage. There is, however, a minimum requirement.

I have developed the only compatibility test you will ever need for your marriage.

Complete this compatibility test by answering yes or no to the following questions:

  1. Do you want to be married to them?
  2. Do they want to be married to you?

If you answered no to either question, tough luck, it’s not going to work.
If you answered yes to both of these questions, you are compatible enough.

If you feel incompatible with your spouse, it likely comes from repeated conflict and feeling overwhelmed with the effort it takes to maintain connection in your relationship.

The reality is, when your experiences are dramatically different, it takes more work to build a well-connected marriage.

If you only speak English and your spouse only speaks Mandarin, a relationship can work it will just take more effort and adjustment. If you always think the temperature is hot and your wife always thinks it’s cold, you have to learn to make reasonable adjustments.

To overcome differences you must commit to learning. Study hard and you can learn to understand your spouse’s perspective better. For a wonderful marriage it helps to have a deep understanding of why your spouse reacts the way they do. To transform conflict into connection intentionally and tactfully ask your spouse what experiences have contributed to their perspective. Be ready to listen, it could be a long story.

It may feel risky to seek more connection but it’s much better than settling for the minimum level of compatibility.

What has helped you address differences with your spouse?