Jumanji and My Daughters: A father’s take on daughters dating

jumanji-beachFrom the moment my daughter was born, there was a drum beat somewhere in the background. When she was young, it was barely perceptible, but as she has gotten closer to dating age, the drums have grown louder.  The same, infernal beat: boys… boys… boys….  It was a source of stress and trouble I have tried in vain to forestall as long as possible.  Then, this year, along came The Boy.  As boys go, The Boy is a good’un.  He is polite, respectful, devout, comes from a good family, is smart, funny, athletic, and the ladies of the house tell me he is good-looking.  If I had to pick one, I’d pick The Boy.  That doesn’t mean I’d pick one.  If it were up to me, this story would sound a lot like Rapunzel.  But this story is not Rapunzel; it’s Jumanji.

Why Jumanji? Because once this game starts, there’s no way to stop it. It ain’t over until someone puts a ring on a finger and says the magic words… “I do.”  And now, the die has been cast and the game has begun. Except it’s not a game.  There are life-altering consequences for every step and misstep. As an attorney in the criminal justice system, I won’t let my mind delve into the true worst case scenarios, but let’s just say underage premarital sex and unwed pregnancy are up there.  The journey my daughter has begun with The Boy has started us down a long road full of pitfalls and unexpected turns.  I was not ready to begin this journey just yet, but here we are.  Can’t stop Jumanji until it’s over.

narrowpathMy biggest source of fear for my beautiful and intelligent daughter and The Boy comes from the knowledge of how long a path they’re on, and how tempting it is to race further down it.  My fears only increase when I consider the many well-intentioned young people I know who came from good families and had strong Christian upbringings and knew and professed the right things but who ultimately succumbed to temptation.  I will be gently and not so gently impressing upon them that their continued ability to stay on the path together depends on staying right where they are on this path, and NO FURTHER.  They will have oversight, guidance, chaperoning and we will help them to see each other and develop their friendship, but if I get the slightest whiff of an attempt to avoid oversight, to have private and clandestine interaction, that will be it for a while.  Lose a Turn.  We will protect you from yourselves whether you like it or not. We are the guardrails until you can develop your own.

And you must.  The idea is that, although you may be able to resist temptation, it is better to avoid it altogether. You know how not to fall off a cliff? Don’t go near the edge.  Don’t put yourself in situations where your only defense to temptation is your own self-control.  Set up guardrails.  (More below).

JumanjiiJungleGunIn the end, I wish nothing but happiness and good times for my daughter and The Boy. I just hope no one has to get shot.

P.S.  Newhope Church‘s Pastor Benji Kelley had a great series on establishing guardrails as a defense to sin. You might want to check it out. Guardrails: Flee!

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Thought: Communication in Marriage


This is Leah. Leah is in 3rd grade. Leah can communicate very effectively to her dad what she is thinking about him without even saying a word.

The conventional wisdom already makes clear that “communication is key” in a marriage, and it is.  But I think a lot of spouses overlook the fact that communication is more than talking. In fact, sometimes our actions can say the opposite of our words. 

You would probably never tell your spouse that you think they’re stupid, that they’re no fun to be around, that they’re not attractive, or that you don’t respect their interests or talents.  Your actions, inattention, body language, sarcasm, criticism and absence can say all these things and worse.  Give some thought today to what you’re saying to your spouse without words.  How can you express without words that they are respected, admired, fun to be with, desired, valued and LOVED?  

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Thank goodness…

My reaction when my husband asks

Too funny. I’m so glad Emily quickly figured out (1) how to get them free, and (2) how to make money sharing these great products with others.

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No Ifs

Different churches have different forms of wedding ceremony.  In some, the groom repeats lines like these:

I take you to be my wife;
and I promise,
before God and these witnesses,
to be your loving and faithful husband;
in plenty and in want;
in joy and in sorrow;
in sickness and in health;
as long as we both shall live.

In others, the pastor asks a series of questions and the groom answers, “I will.”

Will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony?
Will you love her, comfort her, honor her, and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Some weddings have the participants write their own vows.

Regardless of the precise wording there is one noticeable absence.  No “if”s.  Continue reading

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Keep Moving Forward (aka Get up, ya bum!)

I’ve been down a lot lately.

This is not a sympathy bid, because it is frankly embarrassing to me that I can’t seem to shake the urge to mope about some of my circumstances.  I should be able to find hope in Him.  I spend hours in scripture looking for that verse that will help.  I spend time in prayer, though not as much as I should.  I know, intellectually, that I should have joy, hope and peace, holding tight to the promises of God.  I know that.  I do.

I struggle anyway.

More often than not, my inspiration is a little more tangible, a little closer to home.


This is what inspiration looks like to me: Continue reading

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I Don’t Wanna!

pouting little girl, curls, cute, petulant child, argue with God, moses, jeremiah, jonah, jesus, protest, Thirty-One, husband, proverbsI must admit that I act like a petulant child sometimes when prompted by my Lord to do things out of my comfort zone like:  invite people to church, forgive the unworthy, show grace to the ungrateful, and be grateful in difficult circumstances.  But.. but, but God — I don’t wanna! Continue reading

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Are you ready?

With apologies to Ol` Bosephus, I must ask if you are ready for some football?!  In honor of my alma mater kicking off the college football season tonight, I thought I would share that oldie, but goodie from early in that other UNC alumnus Andy Griffith’s career “What it Was Was Football” as well as one of his last works on Brad Paisley’s (we love Brad!) “Waitin’ On a Woman”.

In the meantime, do you have your Thirty-One Collegiate Spirit swag for your tailgate? Contact Emily if you don’t!

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Killing My Self

Homer Simpson devil angel shoulder die self live Christ Him God faith Christianity deny spirit conscience Thirty-One Thirty One work from home stay wahm sahm husband father dad proverbs

The concept of “dying to self and living for Christ” is well-known in the church today, but sounds awfully drastic to those who are not schooled in church jargon.  To be clear, the idea is that we have competing desires within each of us, a sinful nature and a soul that craves God and His will.  A gross over-simplification is the old image of the devil and angel sitting on our shoulders.

I fully accept that we are saved by faith in Christ alone.  That said, I also know that having received that gift that I am called to become more like Him through the aid and grace of the Holy Spirit.  The hard part is stamping out that selfish devil.  I know what to be on the lookout for: Continue reading

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Just Friends: Breaking Up with Carolina

Dear Carolina:Thirty-One Thirty One 31 husband tar heels carolina roy williams unc father dad family faith priorities just friends break upthirty-one thirty one 31 husband work at home stay at home wahm sahm carolina unc tar heels fan sports priorities faith family father husband dad time just friends break up

This is the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write.  It’s not you. It’s me.  We’ve been together as long as I can remember.  Those high school and college years… whew… the passion was amazing. But we’re just in different places now.  I’ve settled down.  I’ve got to reassess my priorities.  And let’s face it: you won’t miss me.  You’ve got plenty of other guys.  Can we just be friends? Continue reading

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I have a love/hate relationship with the movie Pulp Fiction.  On the one hand, it is uberviolent, profane, filled with substance abuse and the most vulgar and violent content.  On the other hand, it is a riveting story, told in a fascinating way, with interesting characters and a ton of quotable material.  It’s one of those movies that has some artistic and entertainment value but should be viewed by mature audiences only and then with caution.

Having issued that disclaimer (lawyer alert!), one of my favorite quotes from this movie comes from an interchange between Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and Butch (Bruce Willis).  Butch, a boxer, has agreed to take a dive in an upcoming bout, and Wallace is addressing any thoughts he may have to renege.

Pride Butch Marcellus Wallace bar Pulp Fiction  husband Thirty-OneMarcellus: The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride f***ing with you. F*** pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.

Continue reading

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