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Jul 28, 2011

Where Laughter Lives - THE BOOK - Yours FREE!

From Brent

I just published my latest book (Where Laughter Lives - Volume One)... you can have it FREE.

Our family blog is subtitled “Where Laughter Lives”. We chose that because humor is a part of our daily life. It’s a good thing too. With going-on nine kids, we NEED to have time to laugh. Humor keeps things grounded, light-hearted, and enjoyable.

We believe laughter and humor is healthy, wholesome, and necessary. Godly too.

This new book is a compilation of my (hopefully) humorous musings from the last couple of years. There are three ways to get it:
  1. Buy the ebook here...
  2. Buy the paperback here...
  3. Or get the eBook here totally FREE if you promise to forward it via email to at least 10 people. You're on the honor system. If you want to email it to a hundred people, or everyone you know, that's even better. (I've even prewritten an email for you if you want to use it, just to make it convenient; see below)
Everyone can use a smile and some good clean laughter. That's all this book is. Just good clean smiles. Pass it on and you can have it for free.

- - - - - - - - - - EMAIL NOTE - - - - - - - - - -

Brent Riggs over at just published his newest book called "Where Laughter Lives" and he is giving it away totally free to anyone who will pass it on to others.

It's a bunch of funny stories and anecdotes from his life over the last few years. I thought you might enjoy some good, clean, real-life humor today. Everyone can use some laughter these days, that's for sure!

He's asked that people pass it on via email to at least 10 others if you get it for free but not to feel obligated in any way if you don't want to. Drop him a note and let him know if you enjoyed the book:

Jul 17, 2011

Some Random Thoughts...

From Brent

Some random thoughts on my personal blog to make you mad, cause you to think and hopefully give you a smile or two... in no particular order.

FYI... I do quick thoughts and comments every day on Twitter about life, blogging, business, family, etc.... follow me for a while and see if you get hooked:!/brent_riggs!/linkytools

Jul 16, 2011

Expecting a Nice Christian Answer From Our Kids

From Brent

We were eating dinner when Abby asked "when is Mr. Johnny coming back?"

Mr. Johnny was our elderly neighbor who passed away a few weeks ago (read a funny post about him here). "Mr. Johnny is in heaven, Abby, we'll see him there when we go to heaven too."

"Dad..." Landis chimed in with a slightly puzzled look on his face. "Will I get to see Mr. Johnny?"

"Sure you will" I replied. "You're going to heaven right?" At this point my wife and I were all prepared for an answer that would make us smile from ear to ear... the result of years of devotionals, vacation Bible school, spiritual talks and Sunday's at church. Here's was our proud moment, a perfect inquiry to solicit the fruition of our consistent, effective, nurturing Christian parenting.

"No." No emotion, no expression. Just "no". No.

NO??? Back the truck up! No? What did Landis mean, "no"? Where had we gone wrong? What failure of Christian parenting had reared it's ugly head? Was SpideyLandis about to announce his impending atheism? Was he to join the annuls of the Prodigals? Our hearts sunk. Our minds darted about grasping for understanding, for reasons, for some shred of hope that our wayward son would return to the faith of his upbringing. As the old HeeHaw song laments (showing my age, huh?): "Gloom, despair and agony on me... aaaawwww....."

I gathered myself.

"Um, son, what do you mean 'NO'? You don't want to go to heaven? Why not?" My mind raced, lining up all the possible answers for his forthcoming rejection of God, the Bible, Christian, and all things faith.

"Cuz I'm not dead."

Well there you go. Duh.

Jul 5, 2011

Airline Tickets, Ideas, Experience

From Brent

Thanks so much for all your kind comments, suggestions and inquiries about our upcoming adoption(s) from Montenegro which is the fulfillment of "Abby's Wish" (for new folks, when our then 3 year old daughter from Guatemala almost died from cancer, her constant wish was for us to adopt her a baby brother and sister... we have been scraping, garage selling and saving our pennies for almost a couple years - along with God's blessings from others - to make that wish come true).

We are very close (days maybe) to getting a referral and choosing the children. With God's blessing, they will be home likely by the end of this summer.

Airline Tickets

We are VERY tight on the considerable expenses and trying to cut costs and save money in every way. One huge expense is going to be airline tickets. Looks like the retail cost is going to be in the neighborhood of $6500.00 total not including hotel and meals which we will do as cheaply as humanly possible.

Given that, we are putting out a shameless call and request for anyone with ideas or ways that we can reduce, eliminate or subsidize the airline expense which would really put us over the top on the entire effort:
  • Are you connected with an airline and know any way of us getting reduced or free airline tickets?
  • Do you know anyone with a kind heart and so many airline miles they are looking for ways to use them charitably?
  • Do you know anyone working with an airline who has what I think are called "buddy passes" or something similar who would help us get tickets for this adoption trip?
  • Any ideas, suggestions or experience on how to get airline tickets cheaper?
Keep in mind that we'll only have a week or two heads up at the most about what dates we will travel, if that matters. It will be two weeks in the country there. Fortunately, they have Internet where we will be and I'll be able to work and do my job.

I counsel people routinely that others who are willing to help and have a servants heart cannot help if they don't know there is a legitimate need. It's much harder to TAKE this advice than it is to give it, especially when we are primarily "givers" at heart. So, I'm taking my own advice and put out the request, praying the right person at the right time will read this.

Regardless, we know God has opened this adoption door and paved the way for Abby's Wish to come true. God's involvement and interaction has been unmistakable. He'll see it through, we have no doubt. We're just doing what we think is our part in serving His plan.

- - - - - - - - - - -
Everyone who reads our blog is such a blessing. We are constantly amazed at the friendships, encouragement and love that flows through this blog to us from you and back. Incredible!

Even our blog "enemies" sometimes become friends. One gentlemen wrote me this week with some VERY harsh words about some advice I gave publicly. By the time we wrote back and forth a few times, he had asked for forgiveness for his unkindness, and we seem to start what appears will be a budding friendship.

God can do stuff like that if we let Him.

Parenting – Boys Fighting

From Brent - A reader asks:

What do you think about young boys fighting to defend themselves or to get someone to quit bullying them?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Wow. There's a lot more to this question than meets the eye, and a pretty good chance I'm going to get myself a lot of "feedback" on this topic (if you know what I mean).

There are a host of issues that go into this: love, turn the other cheek, Christian witness, the feminization of men and boys in our country, the violence of today, courage, and raising boys to be "manly" and Godly men.

As a former Drill Sergeant, black belt and athlete, you might be tempted to think I have a very skewed perspective that oozes of testosterone, but that is not the case. I know, have witnessed, and have experienced the difference between being "manly" in a Godly way versus being "manly" from a fleshly standpoint. I know the difference between Godly spiritual "strength" and fleshly, pride-derived strength.

The Softening of Men

We live in a culture today that seeks to soften and feminize men. That's just a fact (and one might contend it is part of Satan's plan to confuse and weaken the human race). Unfortunately, we are so indoctrinated with feminism, male guilt and political correctness that typically our immediate response is to start defending why it is good for men to act like women (sensitivity, expressing emotions, crying, being feelings oriented, etc.).

Not only does this "feminizing" of men confuse them, it also blurs the definitions and roles of male/female established by God. Combine all this and you get exactly what you see today: disintegrating families, confusion in marriage, rampant sexual confusion, gender perversion and boys and girls who "grow up" not having a clue what being "men" and "women" is all about (and if they do, having to constantly apologize, explain and fight embarrassment over it).

We see an alarming famine of courage, chivalry, patriotism and manliness (and missing for ladies is propriety, true femininity, love for motherhood and loyalty to husbands).

Modern Violence

The modern onslaught of violence in entertainment and real life also adds to the confusion of what being a real man is all about. The gang codes about so-called "respect" teach young men that being a man is all about never allowing "disrespect" and then meeting any disrespect with instant violence. This isn't respect; it's how wild animals act.

We have religions that teach violence and killing is the ultimate act of being manly (and Godly) and will result in eternal paradise filled with the delights of man (sex, indulgence).

We have games, movies and music that teach "being a man" means exploiting women and stomping on anyone that gets your way of getting what you want.

Weak Church, Weak Role Models

All this has affected the Church. We have weak teaching and weak role models to demonstrate for our young men how to grow up to be "manly." Many churches have succumbed to the pressures of political correctness or feminism and have not only quit teaching boys that it is okay to be MEN, but have also turned Jesus into a prissy, pretty, timid hippie that is better suited for the "summer of love" than for saving the world.

The Godly Man

Teaching our boys to be "manly" is simply teaching them to be what God wants a man to be (among other things):

  • Godly - Titus 2:12 - teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (NKJV)
  • Holy - Romans 12:1 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)
  • Loving - John 13:34-35 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (NKJV)
  • Courageous
  • Chivalrous - 1 John 3:16 - By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (NKJV)
  • Serving - 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (NKJV)
  • Honest - Proverbs 12:22 - Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight. (NKJV)
  • Hardworking - 1 Thessalonians 4:11 - that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, (NKJV)
  • Bold - Hebrews 13:6 - So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (NKJV)
  • The leader - 1 Corinthians 11:1 - Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)

Keeping in mind that those qualities are being taught, I come back to the original question. Should boys be told its okay to fight (not sport fighting like boxing, but street fighting)? My answers: sometimes.

Fighting is never appropriate:

  • As part of peer pressure
  • As a dare or for the enjoyment of street fighting (as opposed to controlled, athletic sport)
  • To humiliate or pick on someone
  • Because it's "cool" or to be accepted
  • To inflict your personal will on someone else
  • Out of anger
  • To dominate someone for the pleasure of the "power" you feel

However, I believe there are times when we have to stand up and physically fight, and thus, our boys should be taught the same:

  • To defend a weaker person
  • To defend yourself
  • When it cannot be physically avoided

The last two reasons are closely related. If a man finds himself in a situation where the choice is to stand there and be pummeled, or to defend himself, then I believe we have the Godly right to physically defend ourselves.

Wait! Doesn't the Bible say to love your enemies and bless them? Yes, but notice I didn't say, "Hate the person and curse them." I said, "Defend yourself."

There may be times when you cannot defend yourself or God clearly leads you not to. Ask Paul and Jesus. They suffered specifically for the cause of Christ. And we will too. In those times, God may lead us to endure it, and at times, to defend ourselves. There is no "one size fits all."

As a GENERAL PRINCIPLE part of teaching our boys to "be men" is teaching them that it is appropriate to fight, sometimes to defend ourselves, or if it genuinely cannot be avoided.

As for the issue of defending the weak, I do not believe there is anything more cowardly than coming up with any excuse, including personal safety, to avoid fighting to defend someone weaker who is being hurt. This is a point I have hammered home to my sons since they were little, and it is a tough thing to live up to today in our schools and society. There is hardly anything more cowardly to teach our boys than to have them stand by and watch while a weaker kid is being beat up, picked on or otherwise humiliated. I unapologetically teach my sons that.

In the end, the "fighting" question must be left with each Godly father to determine on a case by case basis. My admonition is that the times we tell our boys to "fight" be few and far between and for reasons that will promote and cultivate both their Christian witness and their spiritual upbringing. And yes, I believe there are times when both are served even in a fight.

I'll leave you with an example from my own fathering experience:

One of my boys had been coming home for several weeks in a row telling me about a boy two years older than him who was picking on him every day at school.

No matter what my son did, didn't do, say or didn't say, this older boy would push him around, "dare" him to fight, and generally humiliate him in front of the older kids.

My son is no "sissy" neither in size or demeanor. At the time, in 9th grade, he was six feet tall, 180 pounds, strong as an ox and pretty tough from years of rough-housing with his Dad and older brother (much to the chagrin of mothers, I believe rough-housing, horse play and competition is healthy between fathers and brothers).

After a time of instructing him how to respond and avoid this bully, I finally decided it was the proper time to tell my son it was okay to stand up and fight (or at least be prepared to).

I explained to him how most bullies are really cowards and all talk. I told him this was probably true in this case because the boy was older and bigger than my son.

I gave him permission to respond, "Okay, let's fight," the next time the bully challenged him but warned him it should be no idle invitation. I told him the bully would probably back down, but if not, he must be prepared to back his words up.

A few days later, in front of a group of kids, the bully started in on him again. He began taunting my son, then pushing him and "daring him" to fight. So my son surprised him with, "Okay, let's go," and proceeded to take his coat off.

My son told me the bully acted shocked but at that point had to either choose to back off (and lose face) or actually fight. So they fought.

My son was thrown to ground a couple of times by the bigger boy, but in the end, my boy pummeled the kid with a few well timed haymakers. He showed the bully that no matter how many times he threw him down, he was still going to be looking at fight when he got on his feet. In the end, the bully said "enough" and hasn't bothered my son again.

Following that, I sat my son down and told him, "Don't get proud." It is the tendency of boys who win a fight to become the bully and start strutting around with a chip on their shoulder enjoying their new found "power" among their peers.

I told him that he did what he needed to do to deal with the bully. The fight served its purpose but now the fighting was over and it was time to try and become friends with the bully if possible.

I sternly warned him (as I had many times before) about EVER being the bully, fighting without real reason, or standing by and watching someone weaker get bullied.

In this case, I cannot see where my parenting choice did anything but instill Godly character, discipline and courage into my son.

Fighting should be a last resort for specific reasons and with the right motivation, but yes, I believe there are times when part of growing up to be Godly men may involve a fight or two.

What are your questions about parenting and family?

Enter your questions in the ongoing question list below and be sure to check out my book full of hundreds of questions and answers:

Jul 1, 2011

Adoption Update

After three adoptions Brent and I thought we had this adoption thing down. Oh boy we were wrong. Adopting from an eastern European country is a much different process than what we have been through before. It's not harder, just different.

We are with an agency we haven't used before, and they are a pilot program. The country we are adopting from is very new to international adoptions. With a pilot program, timelines and adoption requirements can change rapidly. We knew that going in and we are fine with that. So far the changes have been very easy to take care of/handle.

This is our fourth (and maybe fifth) adoption. We have three living, breathing reminders running through our home, constantly reminding us that God is good and that adoption is a beautiful thing.

We adore our agency, love our facilitator and are very excited about the country we are adopting from. Our hope is that as adoption veterans, we can take on being "first" with this new program and smooth the way for other families after us. For those well versed in adoption:

  • Our home study has been approved, dossier is done, the country we are adopting from has approved us and immigration has given us the go-ahead.

For those of you who are not adoption veterans:

  • Abby will be a big sister very, very soon.

We are waiting for our referral. Waiting to find out who our next child\children will be. I can't wait to see their little faces. Would you please join us in praying:

  • We will be referred the children God wants us to adopt.
  • That they will be well cared for
  • They will be in our arms soon

I would love for the children to be of Roma heritage (a poor underclass in that region) because that is where the biggest need is. I have been told it can be difficult to do that because they often don't have the paperwork necessary to be adopted. Would you join me in praying that God would open the door if it is his will?