Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Family Forte: The Power of Remembering

Family Forte: The Power of Remembering
By: Topher Wiles 

                Get ready husbands, because Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away!  While it may not be a high priority on your list, and she may say it isn’t important to her, I want you to remember the beauty of your bride anyway.  Remembering her, honoring her love, celebrating her beauty is a choice you can make that will strengthen your marriage, your family, and really up your Valentine’s Day game.  Remembering my wife has changed my life, and I think it can change yours too.
                Now, I’ve got a lot of moments to remember in life.  It was through tear-filled eyes I've seen the amazing births of all four of my children.  I remember throwing a no-hitter, winning tennis tournaments, and besting every adult in a 5k race.  I've completed a Tough Mudder, a Spartan Race, and a 26.2 mile marathon.  I've jumped from an 83 foot waterfall near Sparta and spelunked in the deep dark recesses of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee cave systems.  I've seen rainbows in Siberia and sat in solitude on mountain tops in Honduras on a star-filled night.  It’s true, I’ve been blessed to remember some of life’s great moments.
                Yet I can't remember any one of those experiences generating as much excitement, passion, and an overwhelming sense of joy as one special moment.  In June 2004 the doors in the back of the auditorium opened at a sweet church in Franklin, TN.  The sunlight danced and radiated around my soon-to-be wife as she was revealed to my eyes for the first time in her wedding dress.  She was stunningly, weak-in-the knees, take-your-breath-away gorgeous.  I couldn’t stop smiling at her through the entire ceremony.  Not a one of those amazing experiences mentioned earlier compare with the vision God gave me of my bride beautifully dressed for her husband on our wedding day. 
                Perhaps it was because we had anticipated and prepared for the wedding for so long, since the moment we started dating.  Maybe it was because we had saved physical intimacy for the wedding night.  Maybe it was because it was at that moment in the wedding that I was about to kiss Ashley on the lips for the very first time ever.  Yes, you read that right, we didn’t kiss till our wedding day!   Whatever the reason, I was ecstatic and exuberant at the sight of this woman as she floated up the aisle to stand hand-in-hand before me.  I've smiled a lot, but I don’t remember ever smiling bigger than that moment in life.
                Why is remembering that special moment important?  It is remembering her beauty that carries my marriage forward when the days seem long.  Remembering her till-death-do-you-part commitment re-energizes my commitment to her.  Remembering our vows compels me to make the move to work things out after a disagreement.  Remembering her radiating smile beaming back at me reminds me to work hard to keep that smile of hers shining.  Remembering the love and passion on our wedding day motivates me to celebrate with my bride on Valentine’s Day, on our anniversary, and throughout the year.
                Husbands, I stumble through life and marriage often, tripping up due to distractions and mistakes.  Let’s face it, not every day is fun, exciting, passionate and wonderful.  There are moments when you get sick of her morning sickness.  There are times that you fall into a heap physically exhausted because you worked so hard to give her the best of her dreams.  There are periods when the kids’ schedules take such a prominent priority in your life that you find you and your wife running different directions every night of the week.  Taking time to remember her is one of the best tools I pull from my relationship toolbox that keeps my 15 years of marriage fresh and on the right path. 
                As it turns out, I’m not alone in remembering.  Wiser and better men than me have used the remembering resource for motivation in life.  Wise King Solomon shared this wisdom too when he wrote, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  (Prov 5:18)  That great motivator, Paul the apostle, reminded men when he wrote, “Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the church.” (Eph 5:25a) Even John, the author of Revelation, connected to this special moment when he compared Heaven to a wedding ceremony.  "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."  (Rev 21:2)  
                Husbands, if you want a stronger family, a better life, and a refreshed soul, you can start any day, but especially use this Valentine’s Day to remember your bride in all her beauty. 

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at CentralChurch of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Family Forte: How Moosetracks Helped in Moving

Family Forte: How Moosetracks Helped in Moving by Topher Wiles

                “Variety is the spice of life,” William Cowper cheerfully penned in 1785, but I have to wonder if he ever picked up his family to move from one state to another.  Had he counseled anyone through the loss of a loved one or a divorce from a spouse?  Had he ever tried to calm a young adult starting a new job or a child going to kindergarten?  Although some may wax poetic about change, the emotional toll of change is undeniable.  Anxiety, fear, and stress are all too common as we ride the emotional roller coaster associated with changes in our lives.   
If variety is the spice of life, then I believe life changes are more like cayenne pepper – we want to use it rarely and sparingly.   
                Yet we do know that change is inevitable.  How do we help those in our families who are struggling with a change?  How do we bring peace to the family whose quality of life has been robbed through an illness?  How do we help an athlete bounce back from a career ending injury?  How do we calm the anxieties of great-grandma when she needs the specialized care of a rehab or nursing facility?  I pray that the following story helps your family through the many changes that come your way.
                Look, Dad! There’s Scoops!  I think those words are forever seared in my memory because of the peace it brought us during a change.  It was a bright spot in an otherwise uncertain time.  
                We were moving to back to Tennessee.  My mother had passed away, my father had a stroke, and Ashley’s grandmother had passed, all while we were living our six years in Indiana.  We knew that we were needed back in Tennessee closer to our families, yet our purpose for moving didn’t make the transition much easier.  There were too many uncertainties.  Will we find an affordable house?  Will our new church family like us?  Can we find a place to serve in the community?  Will the homeschool community accept us?   My worry list was long, even for this optimistic and ambitious guy.  As a dad, it’s not just me anymore making these big changes.  I’ve got four kids and a beautiful wife that I’m dragging through transition as well. 
                Micah didn’t want to leave his firefighter friend at church, Mr. Steven, who always gave him a mint on Sunday mornings.  Gabriel was loathe to leave his homeschool class, a well balanced group of boys he could always find an adventure with.   Ethan didn’t want to leave his favorite small business, Scoops, which was a little locally owned ice cream shop where we celebrated special occasions. 
                As we drove through Sparta after my job interview and thought about all the unknowns, the cry of, “Look, Dad! There’s Scoops!” sounded.  The Scoops sign was more than an advertisement for an ice cream shop; it was a blessing, a “God-send”, a familiar sight in a foreign land.  We pulled in for a cone, and we all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief  and settle into process of change. 
                Familiarity is the key to making change easier for anyone.  If you can help your family connect to something familiar while other things change, it helps aid them through the transition.  For a child, it may involve carrying that comforting blanket with them on the first day of school for nap time.  For our loved ones moving into a nursing facility, make sure to hang familiar photos from the past on the wall to bring  peace in a trying time.  For the young professional starting a new job, you can urge them to continue in their same morning routine just like they did in school, with an alarm, shower, coffee, and reading to bring the familiar back to their schedule.  For the family moving, try to find a similar park, restaurant, or sweet treat stop that is similar to one back home.  You may be surprised at how powerful and comforting these small familiarities can be. 

                For those of us of faith have been given an extra familiarity tool in our tool box.  It’s a tool that never changes, never leaves us, and never forsakes us.  Our belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ, in the providence of our immutable God, in the divine presence of the Holy Spirit, is a gift that can see us through the toughest of times.  When our families continue in these beliefs, from the time we are wrinkled and red fresh out of the womb till the time we are wrinkled and gray from age, we are comforted by the consistency, stability, and familiarity of those beliefs.  Seek the familiar and seek God, and your changes will be blessed.

“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Deut 31:6 & Heb 13:5

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at CentralChurch of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Family Forte: My Strong Family

“My Strong Family”  by: Topher Wiles
                “Look dad!” Micah yells as he strains, grunts, and huffs his way to a half pull-up.  At five years old, my third son carries a bulk heftier than his siblings.  If Gabriel is built for tennis and Ethan is built for wrestling, then Micah is definitely built to be a line-backer.  Being over twice Micah’s age, Gabriel recently achieved his first honest pull-up, a great achievement for a sixth grader.  Any of our readers who have multiple children know the “monkey-see-monkey-do” routine of the younger brothers and sisters.  So here we are, watching what must be Micah’s hundredth attempt at a pull-up.  Teeth are gritted.  Face is strained.  Knuckles are white.  Micah is still only halfway up when his arms finally give out.

                Why do I watch eagerly without wavering in attention?  Why do I lock my eyes on Micah’s like a heat seeker homing in on its target?  Why do I cheer, encourage, and high-five this pre-k hulk before, during, and after his inevitable failure at accomplishing a single pull-up?  Stay with me a moment while I tell you an awful and amazing story to answer our questions. 

                January of 2018 was much colder than this year.  The frigid temperatures saw me working feverishly to get my new-to-Sparta family out of our RV and into the new home we purchased.  Before we could pack up and move our belongings out of our Indiana home and into our Sparta home, I had some serious work to do.  I began to feel a small strain in my back after days of ripping carpet and pulling staples from the existing hardwood floor that lay underneath in our new home.  Yet a weekend closing date on our home in Indiana meant that I couldn’t slow down for pain or strain.  I had to get everything ready to move within 5 days since the buyers of our home up north were taking immediate possession when they signed on the line.

                It was the deadline, the long hours remodeling, and the lack of proper strengthening that landed me in Ty Webb’s office (one of our elders at Central Church of Christ), writhing in pain from my first lower back injury.  Did you know that you can be in so much pain that it induces your vomit reflex?  Yeah, I didn’t either.  I wonder what was going through Dr. Webb’s mind as his new preacher was crying like a baby, unable to stand up, and begging for a trash can to mitigate the effects of the up-chuck reflex at 7am that Wednesday morning.  I wonder what the emergency room doctor in Indiana was thinking three days later when he was told the story of my back injury and how I was writhing in pain on his gurney because I hurt it again attempting to load my recently sold house into a U-Haul. 

                I wonder at these things a year later as I enjoy one of the fittest moments of my life.  I’m stronger now in my back, arms, and legs than I’ve ever been before.  I’m stronger entering into 2019 than this time last year because of family.  It was my church family in Indiana that came to our rescue and loaded that moving truck.  It was our church family in Tennessee that moved me and my wheelchair to the front porch to let me watch as they unloaded my belongings into our new Sparta home.  It was Dr. Ty Webb, my brother-in-Christ, who encouraged me to do my first triathlon as he continued to watch over my strengthening progress.  It was my wife and kids who took up the slack to let my body rest and heal.  It was my family who continued to sacrifice time so that I could visit the YMCA every morning to get stronger, be healthier, and become a better version of my former self.  I am stronger today because of the love, care, and attention of my family.

                Why do I give my love, care, and attention to Micah even though he can’t do a pull-up?  The reason doesn’t lie in the pull-up itself.  I could care less if the boy can do 1, 10, or 100 pull-ups (although 100 pull-ups at 5 years old would be cool!).  What I do care about is Micah knowing that he has my love, care, and attention as he becomes a stronger version of himself.  That’s what God, my heavenly Father, did for me through the trials of the last year.  Love, care, and attention – that’s what families give.   

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at CentralChurch of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,