And the Winners are…

Recently we held a contest to give away 10 of Wes Yoder’s Bond of Brother’s books as gifts for Father’s Day or just to read.  It’s a very unique and well written book for men (and for women to know more about men).  Well, we randomly chose the names of the winners and they are listed below.  Congratulations to everyone that entered!!  If you didn’t win, you should check out the book for yourself or a friend anyway.  It’s a great book and you won’t regret it!

Here are the winners:

1. Jan Orndorff

2. Aaron Stevens

3. Vince Otten

4. Doug Jones

5. Shanna Shutte

6. David Furlong

7. Anna Yoder

8. Sue Mohr

9. Rachel Shetterly

And the winner of an autographed book is:

10. Jim Bronaugh

Thanks to all who entered and made this a fun contest.

Only Half of The Story

Here’s what we know and what we did not hear from our fathers: We did not hear them say anything about their weaknesses until and unless they came bobbing up to the surface. Sons translate that into the idea that weakness is equivalent with shame. They showed us only their strength, and because of it we saw only half a man.

No man who reveals only his strengths is showing his complete manhood. He is showing what he wishes were true, what he hopes will become true, but it is caricature and image, not the truth. Because of it we were cut off from good conversation and much wisdom, and we struggle now to learn what we should have been taught from adolescence. This is not about the adage that real men cry or don’t cry; but by missing tears of any kind from our fathers, a truncated sense of reality develops within us. A boy doesn’t know what is worth crying about. He assumes that not much falls into that category.

The idea that a man’s worth is linked to his strength or illusion of strength is powerful, and we are quite distracted with upholding the image that we are strong. Solomon writes, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair”—their wisdom. But this text doesn’t say anything about the process between youth and old age.

Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (pp. 71-72). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Legalism Can’t Help You

(excerpted from Bond of Brothers)

There’s an idea floating around that God requires men to participate in a small group that will provide accountability for the men in the group. We even have a crummy little legalistic name for them: accountability groups. It could be good for you to belong to a men’s group, but it would be silly to make the group responsible for something it cannot do. I was in such a group once, and we discovered the hard way that none of us could even ask each other for help. You could say we found a way to be connected in surface friendships, but we were deeply entrenched in our own gutters.

Within about two years of “becoming accountable,” the whole thing fell apart. Unaware of what was happening deep within our brothers, our group suffered every kind of unresolved inner conflict you should expect from partially honest men. Since the sins of men are the same, ours need no further broadcast here (think of what you would do if you were left alone too long), but they were dark, often sexual, and rooted in long histories of shame, disassociation, and guilt. Our group failed because we had no idea how to develop friendships that could have anchored our hearts in reality and truth. We reached middle age without the tools needed to navigate, and the boats we were in developed leaks and sank before we knew we were going down.

Are you involved in a “small group”?  Do you actually get to the “stuff” our lives are made of or do you go with the flow, checking your time in the group off of your “list” as if your attendance is all that mattered, not real life change and friendship occurring?  How do we go deeper?  Share your thoughts below…

 

Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (p. 88). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

A Message from a Bluebird

When I was in my midtwenties, I lost my way, as only a young man can who finds himself in a strange city with few friends and loneliness to spare. One morning after a sad and unfulfilling night in the arms of a one-night stand, I was driving to work with tears coursing down my face. I could barely see the road, and I was desperate and pleading with God to help me. The very moment I called for help, a beautiful bluebird flew into the windshield of my car and dropped dead onto the road. Bluebirds have always been my favorites, my little friends in the bird kingdom. I’m too color-blind to see half the cardinals in the woods, but the vibrant colors of the bluebird have always caught my eye. When I cried out to God that morning and my beautiful little friend flew into my car a split second later, I wailed, “God, why? Why did that little innocent bird have to die?” In that moment I heard this thought, Every time you sin, something beautiful dies and sings no more.

If this is true, the stunning thing to me is how much death and dying happen while a man learns to live, yet how the spark of resurrection can make him alive again, no matter the circumstances. My father often told me there were dead men walking around, guys who had lost their hearts, who gave them one little bit at a time to the things that kill men. It is easy to see this in what we consider to be the big moral failures, but it is just as true with the “little junk” we embrace as normal parts of our character or personality. Whether you give your life away “one little brick at a time” or in a moment of great moral failure, the song of your heart is dying, slowly dying. Your heart will kill you, unless there is some remedy.

At Mom’s funeral, her pastor asked the nearly five hundred guests how many of them had ever been to my parents’ home for a meal. Our family turned around to view a sea of hands, and while there must have been a few, we could not see anyone whose hand was not raised. Their table, for fifty-five years, welcomed all who came.

Likewise, the table of our Lord represents restoration and a warm welcome home into his presence with fellow sinners when the songbird of your life has fallen dead on the side of the road. Enemies, including those we have created, come to steal, to kill, and to destroy us, but Jesus offers his broken body and his blood as divine restoration from our foes in what we now celebrate and receive in the Holy Eucharist as daily bread for daily sorrows. The fact that wine and bread, the symbols of joy and of life in which are locked away the sacred mysteries of God, should be endowed with such significance is a reality only God could conceive. We receive the holy remedy, the sacred mystery. We offer it to one another. We receive Jesus again and again and are given the right to become the children of God. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said, for in his presence, there is fullness of joy. Perhaps the table at your house could become, if it is not already, the table of the presence of the Lord, not only for yourself and your family, but also for others.

Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (pp. 131-134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

It’s Never Too Late to Open Your Heart

When Dad was about 74 years old, and I was 42, he finally told us a terrible story he had hidden for years. Talk about a WOW moment, and not one you want to hear. A year later, I decided to tell him all the awful things I had done. We sat in his old pick-up truck and cried like men. I can’t imagine a closer father-son relationship than we had for the next 21 years until he died. Isn’t it sad how long it takes most of us to get honest? How much life we miss until we do?

Is there something you need to tell someone? It’s not too late to share yourself?

Rising Above The Weather–Bond of Brothers

(an excerpt from Bond of Brothers: Connecting With Other Men Beyond Work, Weather, and Sports)

GIVING AWAY MY DAUGHTER, JENNY, AT her wedding was my wake-up call. If my friends and I were not talking about giving our daughters away, I wondered, what else are men not talking about? The list gets scary. If you think about it, you can learn more about some men by what they do not say than by their words. A veteran network news producer in New York once told me that she worries about her husband and spends much of her time and energy helping him find friends. He just can’t keep the conversations going and isn’t close to anyone. The sad truth about lots of guys is we don’t have close friends and don’t have a clue how to get one. We’re ashamed of the stuff we hide and insecure about who we are. We may have a few guys who will carry our coffin when we die, some weekend beer-drinking buds, a few brothers who pat us on the back in church, but no one we actually talk to, no one who will talk to us about anything important.

Conversations among men often begin and end with, “Can you believe this weather?” “How ’bout them Giants?” and “How’s that job going?” The perfect conversation for men with little to say can be summed up in eight words: “Can you believe the weather at that game?”

If you’re a guy, you know, and I know, it’s time to start a new conversation, one leading to discovery of our identity, renewal of our hearts, and real friendship instead of more shell games where every player loses because there is no goal, no ball, and no team. I once heard a young man at his father’s funeral say the best talks he ever had with his dad were about sports. I wanted to cry his tears for him until he learns to cry.

Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (pp. 31-32). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The Silence of Man (an excerpt from Bond of Brothers)

THE SILENCE OF MAN

The things men don’t talk about are some of the most important things in life. They are clues both to our sorrows and to traits we esteem but cannot achieve, to things we love and things we fear. But rarely do conversations among men drill down to this place where the good water flows. It may also be true of women, but I have observed among men and in my own life that the things men do not talk about eventually become their secrets. Our secrets become our fears, and our fears in turn become the solitary confinement we exchange for home.

Even more disturbing and damaging than the pandemic physical disappearance of men from their families is their retreat into muteness, their descent deep into the underworld of insecurities, lost or dark romance, discouragement, failure, depression, and evaporated dreams. Over time, as every man knows, the silence within develops a mind and commanding voice of its own and seeks to become his master.

The proof of our lives raises no argument against these proverbs: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he”; “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”; and “whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire.”2 Should we assume all our silent brothers have no abundance of the heart, nothing to contribute to a conversation, no words by which to encourage a friend, a son, a daughter, or a wife? Some of us are closed for the simple reason that we have not yet found our voices; we did not know men have voices anyone cared to hear. The cause of silence, for others, however, is much more profound. We know that when our hearts are crushed within us, we have no desire to say anything at all. Intentional self-isolation, however, is seldom benign, and it will reveal its hideous fallout given time.

MEDITATION:  Have you experienced the pain of silence, either from your father or by the silence you’ve unwittingly but embracingly given to those you love?

2 “As he thinks”: Proverbs 23:7 NKJV; “out of the abundance”: Matthew 12:34;

Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (Kindle Locations 137-153). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.