Tag Archive: present

brett fish and tbV on bench

Note, this is remarkably different from “be incontinent” so try not to get confused. [in fact to be honest one of the definitions listed was “Not restrained; uncontrolled” and i am going to be speaking to exactly the opposite of that…]

At the point of writing this, my wife aka the beautiful Val, is currently in Americaland while i am still in South Africa [that is about to change in 5 days time though, can’t wait!] and if all i was going to say in this post was ‘be on the same continent’ then most of you could probably skip this one and move on to the next one – being on the same continent is something the majority of married couples seem to get right most of the time.

But what i am really wanting to be speaking into is the idea of being present, because there might be times when physically you are around your partner, but because of where you are in your mind [distracted] or your body [watching tv, sending a text] you may as well be on a different continent. You might feel like you have given your partner important time that you could have spent being somewhere else or doing something else [which you might be inclined to tell them – don’t!] but for them it might feel like you weren’t really all that interested or invested in what they were saying.


There may be times when this is not possible or easy – you might be in the middle of fixing a very delicate piece of equipment as your wife comes to have a chat with you or be watching the final two minutes of extra time in the World Cup Soccer final with your side 1-0 but making a monumental counter-attack down the field… and in those cases it might be good to ask for a few minutes first to quickly finish what you are doing before you give your attention. But for the most part when your person wants to speak to you, try as far as possible to stop what you are doing, to look them in the eyes and give them your full attention while they speak to you. This could be for really important conversations or it could be while your wife tells you how her shopping trip went, but the more times you actually stop what you are doing, put things you are busy with down and sit and look her in the eyes and pay attention to what she is saying, the more loved she will feel. [Especially if you are able to pull yourself away from an important game or activity – it communicates “You are important to me and i want to give you my full attention!”]


There is nothing that says “I am listening to you” more directly than eye contact. If at all possible [and it usually is] look at your person when they are speaking to you. If it is necessary to hold them with a “just a moment” so you can put aside your phone, turn the tv off, walk to where they are standing or sit next to them, then do it and look them in the eyes and say, “What is it you wanted to tell me?” This may feel a little awkward if you are not used to doing it, but for most people it can be such a powerful thing. And unlike incontinence this is about being restrained and in control. Be intentional about giving the person you love the knowledge that you care about them and what they have to say. And being present means really listening to what they are saying, not starting to come up with your response half way through their sentence. Listen to the end and then respond.

turn cellphone to silent


Different people feel differently on this one, but i feel so completely strongly about it that it is worth mentioning. If you meet me for coffee and while we are hanging out your phone rings and you answer it, what that communicates to me is that at that moment, for you, anyone in the whole world [even a wrong number] is more important to you than me. If you want to show me love and that you care about me, you will turn your cellphone off when you have chosen to spend time with me. My buddy Dunc in the past has told me he is expecting a business call and then i don’t mind at all because he has invited my permission and shown me he cares for me that way. If you can turn your phone off for the duration of a movie or church service or business meeting, then please show me i am more important than those things when we have chosen to hang out. Obviously different situations dictate different things [i’m not saying never have your phone on around me]

Being present can be such a hugely significant thing in a relationship. It communicates love and priority, care and attention, focus and intentionality… it says “You are important to me. I care about spending time with you. I am interested in what you have to say.”

if you’re feeling brave, go and ask your spouse on a scale of one [being completely distant] to ten [being absolutely present and involved] how would they rate you? this might bring about some frightening results, but it may provide a catalyst to help you start working on an aspect of your relationship that could really use it.

[to continue on to Rich E’s one way to love your spouse better with an excellent activity on listening, click here]

continuing with this series of new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my next evolution suggestion is this:


wo, that seems a little complicated, but really it’s just some more intentional living and this one requires a bit more work and effort and maybe even sweat and tears, but it is vital to having a life to the full 2012:

DEAL WITH THE PAST – one of the biggest aspects linked to this is forgiveness and this is such an important thing as holding onto unforgiveness and the bitterness/anger/resentment that goes with it, can be one of the most damaging things in life [physical, emotionally and even spiritually]

it has been said that holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person dies… because most of the stuff associated with unforgiveness hurts you and often the person it is directed at, is blissfully unaware that you are holding something against them. sometimes they may know and so it will affect both of you, but it is impossible to not forgive someone and live unaffected by that. what often happens is you build walls around yourself to protect you from being hurt again [by that person, or maybe by anyone] and while that can be incredibly affective, what it does is it also keeps out the potential love and support from both friends and God, which leads to loneliness and bitterness and increasing resentment and so on. the bible is clear that if someone has something against you [not even just you against them] you should interrupt your worship [leave your gift at the altar] and go and put things right with that person [as much as is possible for you, sometimes they won’t be interested but you have to make the effort from your side] and then return when you can honestly and truly [and purely] be able to worship God properly [matthew 5.24]

so to create a base for great relationship with God and a platform for healthy, growing relationships with friends and family it is vital that you do not hold unforgiveness against anyone. there might be something that happened ten years ago [or when you were a young child] and yet every time you see the person or hear their name it sends shock waves through your body – you need to address it and bring forgiveness, or it will stick with you for the rest of your life. [and i am not suggesting this is an easy thing – when it heads towards areas of abuse, be it physical or even just verbal, and rape, then it can be incredibly difficult, almost impossible and will not be a one moment thing but rather a journey of choosing to forgive daily, but fortunately i am in relationship with a God who is great with the ‘impossible’ and so i know there is a hope and a future where He is involved]. taking this point seriously will revolutionise your life.

another aspect of dealing with the past is getting out of debt. living in debt is a crippling thing because it feeds itself and just continues to be an ever gaping’er hole. as much as it is up to you in life, live without debt because this affects relationships and opportunities and health and so much more. for some of you this will mean the tough decision to take a serious look at your lifestyle and making some changes so you can live according to your means and not beyond them – things like what you spend on entertainment, or even take-away coffee [i made a decision when i was in stellenbosch that as much as i love it, i can’t really justify drinking at vida e cos the coffee is so expensive, but had specific times when drinking at Seattle was allowable] and even maybe where you live and what you drive. the distinction between need and greed can be a really helpful one in this area if we can be honest about it. and often choosing to spend less on yourself gives you resources to pour into others.

one other aspect i won’t go into in depth her, but which i think is key is to stop living off yesterday’s stories and miracles and accomplishments – be strengthened when you look back on them for sure, but always be looking forwards to the new thing God is going to do – if the stories you tell of God working in your life are ten years old, you need some new stories…


again, there is a lot that can be said here – hopefully this blog works as a catalyst to spark off much greater thought and life change, but just a few thoughts… one area which i think differently to a lot of people, but similarly to how i read and understand the Bible, is the area of savings. while i think it is good to save specifically for something you have in mind and are working towards [i spent six months in the UK working to save up enough money so I could do a Youth With A Mission school in Holland in 2000] i don’t think savings for the sake of having a backup plan are a God idea. i believe for the most part we should be living and using the majority of our resources [time, money, energy] for what is happening now [although always keeping the future in mind, but not having the now determined by then then] and not just storing things up to enjoy later [see the parable of the rich fool in luke 12 as one example].

take a look at the early church in Acts 2.42 and 3 as well and see how the community aspect of how they lived affected their finances and how they looked after each other [community will be a future part of this series so watch out for it] because if we are a part of a community who really live in and around each others lives, then their will be mutual provision in all areas of life and cross-resourcing and it has the potential to create a really beautiful thing.

the problem with being stuck in the past [unforgiveness, regret, holding on to past failures and missed opportunities] or living in the future [being fully focused on the thing that it yet to come – “when I’m finished school”, “when i’m married”, “when i’m retired”] is that usually the now suffers very much and present relationships, opportunities, life and potential lose a lot of what they could be.

and so please put some time aside to think through these things and more – deal with the past and then live now, keeping the future in mind, but not being dictated by it…

to continue to the next one on how you spend your money, time and energy, click here.

hey readers of this

someone forwarded me an email not telling me the nigerian governtment or bill gates are about to send me a lot of money so i thort i’d pay attention – there is this site that puts together presents for needy kids in the form of santa shoeboxes – they have a target of 31552 kids this year and are currently over the 29000 mark and so really just need a few people to push them over – check out the site – get involved if you will – one piece of meat less on your Christmas dinner table might mean a changed life or moment for someone else

visit the site

The project started in Cape Town in 2006 spearheaded by the founder of Kidz2Kidz, Dee Boehner. In 2007 Irene’ Pieters was appointed national co-ordinator and in 2008 the Santa Shoebox Project joined forces with a similar organization from Somerset West.

Since then, the project has grown in leaps and bounds and the numbers have grown from 180 Santa Shoeboxes in 2006, to 2000 boxes in 2007, 8000 in 2008 to 16000 in 2009, exceeding the target by 30% – 50% year on year. In 2009 the Santa Shoebox Project reached into all corners of South Africa and in 2010 also into Namibia and Botswana. Each country supporting their own children.

The management is run entirely by volunteers. Kind hearted people who give their time, effort and expertise without being remunerated for it. Satellite projects have sprung up not only in the big cities but include many small country towns as well. All run by volunteers taking the responsibility of acting as co-ordinators for their areas.

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