A Man’s Best Weapon

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I am sharing a post from one of my favorite Dad blogs: All-Pro Dad. I take my faith very seriously but one area I have always struggled with is having a consistent prayer life.  It is a frustrating area to struggle with especially when I know how effective prayer can be in a man’s life.  What you will read below is a recent submission from Benjamin Watson who is currently the starting Tight End for the New Orleans Saints.  He and his wife recently welcomed their fifth (I think) child into the world so he knows a thing or two about marriage, family and the importance of keeping all of that together. Given the temptations NFL players face day in and day out I have great deal of respect and admiration for Mr. Watson.  What he wrote challenged me a great deal this morning so I thought I would share it.

He has a new book coming out in November, “Under Our Skin” and I recommend you purchase or download it when it becomes available.

With no further ado I will turn it over to Benjamin.

I once heard a story about a prominent and important clock in the middle of a town. One day, it broke down and the town officials brought in experts to fix the clock. For weeks, they labored but were unable to solve the problem. Meanwhile, every day there stood an old man on the street who kept asking if he could help, and every day he was turned away. Finally, when the town officials had exhausted all of their options, they reluctantly let the old man try. The man entered the building and, within thirty minutes, the clock was working perfectly again. When they asked him how he fixed it, he simply said, “I designed and built that clock.” He knew how every piece functioned and fit together. He was the true expert on how the clock worked because he was the designer. Similarly, God, the Creator of life, knows best how it should be lived. If I really want to live life to its fullest then I need to get to know the Creator and make my life about what He thinks is important. One of the best ways is through prayer.

Recently, I was able to preview a new movie called War Room. One of the main characters is an old and wise woman named Miss Clara. When she is introduced in the movie you can tell she has an inner strength. Eventually, you find out where it comes from. She faithfully prays in a closet in her house that she calls her “War Room”. When she steps into that room, she is strategic and goes to battle for her life and her loved ones. Prayer is such an underutilized tool in my life. War Room challenged me in that area. [Tweet This] It is my best weapon and it is time for me to use it more. Here’s how I pray and why I think it is so important.

Listening

God speaks to us through His Word and through prayer. A relationship with a friend, child, or spouse grows with communication. Our relationship with God is no different. How can we expect to know and experience a God we never take the time to commune with? Many times we think that prayer is one-way communication. While that’s a large part of it, the powerful thing about prayer is that God communicates to us during this time. His Spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know what or how to pray (Romans 8:26).

Protection

There are many dangerous things that my wife and kids can encounter and I can’t always be there to protect them. So I pray for protection over my family. However, this is not only physical safety but also emotional and spiritual. The world will try to tell them to be a certain way rather than who God made them. I pray for their strong identity in Him first and foremost.

Integrity and Character

Temptation is around every corner, particularly in the NFL and I am certainly not immune to it. I’ll never forget my father saying, “Sin takes you further than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.” I pray for my thoughts, feelings, and decisions, that they would maintain the highest level of morality, integrity, and character.

Over my career, certain teammates have challenged me in this area. In Cleveland, it was a couple of guys who got up early before work to pray together in our homes. In New Orleans, it’s a couple of teammates who pray on Saturday nights in the hotels before games. For me, setting a time and having a few men hold me accountable has helped me grow. As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.

Thriving Relationships

There are things that work to isolate us from one another. It could be ambition, jealousy, racism, unfaithfulness, a lack of forgiveness, prejudice, etc. My most important relationship is my marriage. I pray for my wife and that nothing would separate us. Then I pray for my kids and our family connection as a whole. Finally, I pray for all other relationships in my life, from friends to teammates, even enemies. I pray that those things that divide us would be removed.

Humility and Service

There are people in pain and in need all around us. The more connected I am with God the more I look to the interests of others. In other words, I love and care for people better. I pray for the needs of those around me. I pray that I will have alert senses to see those needs and the empathy and resources to meet them. You may be the only person praying for the ones you love or even the stranger you pass on the street who is clearly hurting.

Knowing God

I’m a doer. I’ll read my bible, go to church, share my faith with others, and write about the issues we all face. But taking time to, individually and collectively, pray is challenging for some reason. We must never let busyness, even for the Lord, become an excuse. Besides, being obedient to the command to do so, prayer is putting priority on the power of God over the power of self to accomplish God’s purposes in my life. Sometimes my good works can become all about ME and what I can do while prayer is about God and what HE can do. We must be reminded that service to others is good, but knowing God is better.

We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God himself. -Oswald chambers

Husbands, the home is the primary place where prayer must happen; We must lead our wives and our children into God’s presence regularly.

Until tomorrow, be a better man!

Andrew

Fashion Friday – How to Take Care of a Hat

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TGIF!

Keeping with our recent themes on Friday we are taking a look at the proper maintenance techniques for taking care of your hat.  And no, we aren’t talking about your baseball cap.

Sadly I cannot pull of wearing any other kind of hat other than the aforementioned baseball cap or a stocking cap.  My big Polish/Viking head makes me look very comical with just about any other kind of hat on my head.  Trust me, I have tried and continue to try and find a hat that looks good on my huge bobble doll style head.

Today’s post come courtesy of my friends at The Art of Manliness.  Feel free to jump over there when you have time as they always have some really excellent articles dealing with all things manly.

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A few years ago, it seems like classic hats (fedoras and trilbies and the like) were making a comeback — no doubt due to one of our very first posts: “Bringing Back the Hat.” As with all fads, it seemed to fade away as quickly as it arrived, leaving classic hats right back to where they were before — worn by men like myself who like the tradition and the way they look and really don’t care about whether they’re “cool” or not.

Partial responsibility for the fizzling of the hat resurgence can be traced to the fact that men starting picking up their lids at retailers like Target. While they could be had for cheap, they looked cheap, with none of the classic handsomeness that made hats of old such an attractive accessory in the first place. A hat is like a watch or a suit — the kind of thing you want to shell out a few more bucks for in order to get something that’s top quality. Don’t cut corners when buying a hat — visit a local shop dedicated to hats, find one that looks great on you and works for your mug, and buy the best. Sure it costs more initially, but by taking good care of your hat it can last your whole life, ultimately giving you more bang for your buck than something that looked bad from the get-go and is going to fall apart in five years.

Here are some tips for increasing the longevity of your hat and keeping it looking fresh, clean, and sharp.

Storing a Hat

When putting your hat down on a flat surface, lay it upside down on its crown, not on its brim. Leaving it on its brim will cause it to flatten out and change shape.

You can also hang your hat on a hat rack or peg. Make sure the peg or hook is wide enough to not create a dimple in the hat. If your hook seems too sharp, cut a slit in a tennis ball and slip it over the hook to create a wider platform. Do not store your hat on a peg for long periods of time as the force of gravity pulling on the hat can change its shape.

If you plan on storing your hat for an extended period of time, then it’s best to place the hat in a hat box which supports both the brim and crown. Store the box in a cool, dry place, as both heat and moisture can damage your hat. But beware of moths making a snack of your topper — use lavender or cedar (a good, manly smell) to keep these buggers at bay.

Cleaning a Hat

Loose dirt. If your felt hat is looking tired and dirty, take a brush to it. Use a horsehair brush, as those made with nylon bristles can be too abrasive for felt. A soft shoeshine brush can do the trick or you can buy brushes especially made for hats. Get a brush with light-colored bristles for use on a light-colored hat and vice versa for dark hats, as the color of the bristles can sometimes transfer to the hat. Gently brush your hat with the nap in small, counter-clockwise motions.

Even when you can’t see the dirt, give your felt hat a regular brushing; it will prolong its life.

Dust. Wipe with a slightly damp cloth.

Hair and fuzz. If your hat is covered with pet hair or fuzz, wipe it gently with a piece of tape. Wrap it around your fingers, sticky side out, and sweep it gently across the hat.

Smudges and stains. For a stain on a felt hat, start off by taking a gum eraser or a rubber sponge (like a make-up sponge) to the mark or smudge. There are also sponges made especially for hats and dry cleaning sponges can do the trick as well.

If the stain or smudge persists, try a cleaner made for hats like Scout Hat Cleaner. You spray it on, wait for it to dry into a powder, and then brush it off. For a grease stain, you can also try rubbing some cornstarch into it and then brushing it off.

For a straw hat, use ivory soap and a wet cloth and gently rub the stain.

Prolonging the Life of Your Hat

Handle it by the brim, not the crown. I’ll admit that I like doffing my hat by grabbing it by the crown. It just looks cool. But unfortunately, while it may be suave, it’s no good for your hat. All that pinching will weaken the crown’s ability to holds its shape or create a crease that can’t be fixed. Oils and dirt from your hand will also soil the hat. Take off or pick up your hat by grasping it at the front and back of the brim. Always handle your hat with clean hands to avoid transferring grime to it.

Allow wet hats to dry naturally. If you get caught in a rainstorm and your hat becomes soaked, allow it to dry naturally; artificial heat from a hair dryer or heater can distort or shrink the hat. Turn the sweatband out and place the hat on its brim on a towel to avoid creating flat spots on the crown. Shape the hat to its proper form; a wet hat will dry in the shape you leave it in.

Try to avoid ever getting a straw hat wet, as the moisture will cause the straw to swell, distorting the hat’s shape.

Never leave your hat in your hot car. Heat and sunlight can dry out, fade and shrink your hat. So don’t leave it on your dashboard or in your trunk, or sitting in front of a window at home.

When your sweatband gets wet and oily, flip it down to let it dry out. This allows the perspiration to evaporate instead of soaking into your hat.

Until next week make it a better day!

Andrew

@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

Devotional Tuesday – Focus on Mercy

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Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”John 18:11

My eyes have recently been opened to what it means to drink fully from the cup of Jesus. Taking Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane as our example, it becomes clear that one of the root ingredients in the cup of Jesus is mercy.

Jesus was in the Garden working through the emotional (i.e. human) angst regarding what He knew was going to happen.  Judas, having struck a deal with the High Priests, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. They, along with their temple guards, came to arrest Jesus and initiate their “justice.”

Peter did what Peter does…he acted first and thought later. Grabbing his sword he swung at the arrestors. Aiming for the neck but just missing his target; Peter severed the ear of one of the guards. Standing in shock and with blood pouring down his face, the guard looks down to see his ear lying on the ground.

Here is a guy who is blindly following the orders of the High Priests. He has his own motives…his own agenda…his own prejudice towards Jesus. He is individually guilty for participating in the arrest. Ultimately, he is a party to the murder of an innocent man. And yet; Jesus stops the turmoil and in one act sets the example that we are to follow.

You might have a sword…know how to use a sword and even be justified in pulling it out. Think first…(not to use an overused pun) What would Jesus do?  Have mercy on people rather than hate, vengeance and bitterness.  Jesus showed mercy even in his darkest hour and that is the example we should be trying to follow.

“Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:51

Dating Advice 101 – How to Win at Tinder (and Other Online Sites)

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Let me just put a disclaimer out there.  I am not using any online dating apps.  I am married.  Happily.  However, my wife and I did meet on Match.com so I like to believe I have some experience in this area (I was on Match over a year before I met Sharlay.)  Since that time there are all kinds of new apps and ways to meet and hook up with women.  However, I am confident all the same rules that applied on Match.com (and eHarmony, Plenty of Fish and Interracial Match) will apply to the new apps.  Obviously Tinder is the hot app right now, especially for hooking up but don’t think it is only for sex.  A recent study by the University of Chicago found that 1/3 of marriages were the result of online dating.

In addition to Tinder there is also Hinge (links you to your Facebook downloadfriends’ friends; yes a little creepy); Happn (GPS tracking of where you are every day and the overlap with nearby women; and Tastebuds (matches you up with other women with similar musical tastes.)  Of course those are just a few of the many apps out there.

Yet with all those marriages and dates happening via these apps you would think hooking up and getting a date would be easy.  However, many men still aren’t making the right connections.  We are here to help.

You only have a second or two to catch a woman’s attention so you need your profile to be smoking and on point.  Follow these rules and you will be good to go.

1. Get the Photo Right

This doesn’t mean you need to be good looking.  Whatever you do, don’t use someone else’s picture on your profile.  Only 8morons do that and you don’t want to spend the first 30 minutes of your date explaining why the picture(s) on your profile do not look like you. Same goes for using that photo from 7 years ago when you were 20 pounds lighter with more hair.  Don’t be that guy!

The most important part of your picture is to make you seem interesting.  That is what worked for my wife when she came across my profile.  One of my pictures was me in a leather jacket standing in front of a jet fighter (it was very Top Gun like) and it intrigued her.

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Okay so I broke the sunglasses rule but it was necessary for the ambiance of this picture!

Select several shots that are a mix of head and body shots.  You should be sure to include at least one photo of you being active (think running, playing basketball or golfing, not playing PS4) and be sure one of the photos includes your clean shaving mug.

More things to avoid: no bar pictures, no pets (and certainly never, ever a cat), no cars, no sunglasses, no selfies, no topless photos (believe it or not you will get less clicks using these photos) and no cheesy looking grins.

Science says women click more often on prideful poses.  So raise your head and puff out your chest when taking your profile picture.

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2. Use a Quick Video

Get a friend you trust to shoot a quick 30 second video of you goofing off.  Nothing serious.  This will give the ladies a better chance at picking up on your personality.  Pictures can only do so much but a short video can really help confirm what is already listed in your profile (and that you look like your pictures.)

3. Keep it Short, Stupid

You don’t read long posts from women and women aren’t going to be interested in reading your ramblings, no matter how brilliant you are (you arTSR1021_Dungeons_&_Dragons_-_Set_4_Master_Rulesen’t.)  Talk about something you are passionate about so she has easy things to talk with you about, unless you are a passionate Dungeons and Dragons, Mine Craft or other video game type of person.  Do you volunteer with kids, help feed the homeless, save dolphins, change the world?  Put that in your profile.  It is a winner.  At one point in my dating life I was helping out with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and let me tell you that helped get me all kinds of attention!

4. Perfection Isn’t Going to Fly

If you were perfect you wouldn’t really exist so let’s skip the bullshit and be real about your life.  You don’t have to confess to stealing a car in the 8th grade but explaining how you love to golf but are terrible, is a good start.  Or perhaps confessing to a television show addiction like “Game of Thrones” or “Ray Donovan.”

5. End With a Way for Women to Respond

Women want to respond to your profile but many won’t because Matt-Damon-Luciana-Damon-Starbucks-Picturesthey aren’t always sure how to. Make it easy on them. Mention in your profile something like “I met Matt Damon one time in a Starbucks, but you will have to ask me about that.” You will easily get more responses by including something like that in your profile.

Editor’s Note: said Matt Damon meeting is actually true

6. Unfinished Business

Unlike you, women get as many as 50 to 100 emails a day when using an online dating site.  Which means regardless of how great you are it can be easy for her to overlook an email from you.  The best way to combat this problem is to leave an unfinished sentence in the subject line (such as “Did you know…” and then finish the sentence in the body of the email.)

One example could be “Did you know…” and “we were at the same Cold Play concert last spring?  How did you like the show?”  While I didn’t use this trick on Sharlay (she emailed me first) I did with other women I dated.  Most often I used “Did you know…” and “I am a descendant of Abraham Lincoln?”  Which almost always received an initial response and is actually a true statement (don’t make something up she will only be let down when she learns the truth.)

7. Don’t Hesitate

The longer you delay in going out on the first date the more likely you will lose her interest.  Either she will build you into someone you are not and be let down on the first date or she will find a more interesting (and aggressive) man to date before you.

If you are being honest about yourself and you guys hit it off a date should be in the works within 20 days of the first message.

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Until tomorrow, make it a better day and be a better man!

Andrew

Fashion Friday – Proper Duds for the Links!

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Golf clothes run the gamut from conservative, nondescript garments that are engineered strictly for performance, to ostentatious prints and flashy colors that would get you savagely ridiculed off the course. There’s really no right or wrong between the two, it’s just a matter of how much you want to stand out on the green. Just remember, golf clothes are made with technical fabric that performs well on the course, but looks out of place anywhere else.

In other words we don’t recommend you wear this, this or any of these.

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Pants and Shorts

Golf pants are made to accommodate your activity on the course. They’re moisture wicking, stretchable and usually have a performance waistband that keeps your shirt tucked. Golf shorts have the same features, but make sure your country club allows them (not all do).

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Polos

The difference between a golf polo, and every other polo is the fabric and the cut. They’re made from technical fabric that keeps you cool on the course, the sleeves are roomier to accommodate your swing, and the body is longer to help stay it tucked in.

I hope you are all able to get at least one round in this weekend.  I need to live vicariously through you all!

Until Monday be a better man!

Andrew