Monday, November 23, 2020

Family Forte: Thanks Is More Than A ReTweet

 by: Topher Wiles

    Has it really been 5 years since David Letterman retired from Late Show entertainment? 
Recently, Dave was on the Ellen Degeneres show chatting about the era that ended in 2015 when he finished his 33 years in nighttime TV with a simple, "That's pretty much all I got ... thank you and goodnight." When we look back through social media at the moment, some fans responded with tears, others offered jokes, and a few responded with thanks.  I am particularly struck by Conan O’Brien’s tweet (did you know he still has a show on stating the shift in gratitude in today's culture.

"It's absolutely absurd to thank David Letterman for all he's done in a tweet.  But that's the world we live in now. #ThanksDave" – Conan O’Brien

     That tweet was retweeted 2,900 times.  Yes, “retweeted”.  That means some people were too lazy to write their own 20 second grateful tweet and just clicked the retweet button.  Conan, true to form, was making commentary and his followers illustrated well “the world we live in now.”  It’s a world of fast tweets and short-lived gratitude, trending today and retreating tomorrow. 
     Yet there are some who choose to be different than “the world we live in now.”  Last week I received a special treat in the mail, a handwritten “Thank You” card from my friend John.  Sure, I catch the occasional text, tweet, snap or email in my inbox after serving someone but none of them feel the same as reading that handwritten note from John.   I don’t save screenshots of text message gratitude, but I have a box full of handwritten thank you cards from the last 20 years of serving others, and I’m grateful for them. 
     Who have you thanked lately?  I am convinced that the mayor, secretaries, firemen, law enforcement, coffee baristas, county commissioners, newspaper editors, ministers, librarians, social workers, church elders, teachers, janitors, physical trainers, principals and more deserve greater thanks than a text message.  Those who serve us on a regular basis deserve our long-lasting gratitude.
     I believe this strongly enough that I’ve changed my own habits to strengthen myself and my own feelings of gratitude.  If you are like me, fully immersed in the digital age, then you are familiar with project and time management apps like Google Calendar, Reminders, and Tasks.  At the top of my daily digital to-do list every Monday through Thursday (my traditional office days) is the task, “Write a Thank You Note.”  Conveniently located next to my desk is a stack of my own custom designed thank you cards (thanks to designer Chelsea Hilton & Brady Printing).  Next to that stack is a roll of stamps.  It takes me merely 5 minutes a day to snag a notecard, write a personal thank you to a friend, and drop it in the mail. 
     How does this translate into Family Forte (family strength)?  First, by training yourself to be more grateful your gratitude will rub off on others, including your own family.  Moreover, you can also intentionally train your family to be more grateful with just a few small efforts such as:
  • Putting a pack of “Thank You” cards in your kids’ Christmas stockings each year;
  • Counting your blessings together before bed every night;
  • Making a “Turkey Ticket” for Thanksgiving, a receipt roll that is one centimeter long for each year of their life, that they must fill up with things they are grateful for as an entry ticket to your Thanksgiving meal;
  • Creating a “Thankful ABC’s” chart to fill out every Sunday night before bed as a family, naming 25 things you’re thankful for from the previous week (we’ll give you a pass on the letter “x”);
  • Giving your family a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt during warm weather in which your family members walk the neighborhood (individually or in teams) and take photos with specific listed items or neighbors to be grateful for.
I’m convinced that developing gratitude in myself and my family is some of the best invested time of my day, only to be topped by the time I invest in prayer in which I always thank God first (prayer is also good to put in your daily task list!).
Our Holy Scripture handed down from the Father through His Spirit gives us a view of gratitude that is much more than a retweet or social media post.  Read the following “Text Messages” from Scripture about gratitude.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -  Colossians 3:17

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” – Ephesians 1:16

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
 – Psalm 50:23

Gratitude can be practiced in many long lasting ways.  It can displayed by doing something in someone’s name (Col 3:17).  It is done by praying for a person (Eph 1:16).   It is shown by sacrificing for someone (Ps 50:23).  If you’re thankful for someone today, how about doing something to honor them, praying for them, or sacrificing five minutes for them by writing a note.  A retweet is a start, but real gratitude is more – it is the calling of the community of Christ. 

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
” – Ephesians 4:1b

    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 Central Church 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,

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

All Pro Dad: Three Tips for Taming the Yeller in You

 For those that don't know, I've been invited to write submissions for All Pro Dad, a great honor!  The material that I write for All Pro Dad's website, blog, and emails is owned by APD.  I post it here simple as a way to store my writings.  If you have any questions about this great organization, feel free to ask me or go check them out on their website here:

Submission for February 2021 the article

Three Tips for Taming the Yeller in You

by: Topher Wiles

“Loud.”  The best word to describe my childhood family was “loud.”  I’m talking the kind of loud that could stress others out just by the sheer volume we brought to ballgames, restaurants, and movie theaters.  Don’t even try to imagine the decibels achieved by arguments in our family.  Many of you can empathize with my roots, so it comes as no surprise that one of our most frequent parenting tools pulled from the dad toolbox for discipline is increased volume and verbal energy.  In short, we’re guilty of unnecessarily yelling at our kids; a part of my dad life that I’m not proud of.    

Sure, my wife has gently reminded me to calm down when I amped up the discipline energy level too high. Yes, my personal growth readings from self-help books, devotional articles, and the Bible regularly remind me to be focused on gentle correction rather than screaming direction and punishment at the top of my lungs, yet sometimes I still struggle with yelling at my kids.  I read an ancient author recently, Saul of Tarsus, who knew exactly what I was going through when he penned, “Brothers, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, correct such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won't be tempted.”   

When my 11 year old son recently got into an argumentative shouting match with my 6 year old boy in the back yard, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor, launching into a loud lecture that the whole neighborhood could hear.  It was the hurt look on my elder son’s downcast face that let me know I had taken the verbal lashing too far.  His misty eyes made the lightbulb switch on in my brain, humbling me as I realized my boys were only modeling my corrective methods with each other. 

There is hope for those of us who find ourselves unnecessarily loud with our kids, desiring a quieter and gentler way of parenting.  After prayer, a quick google search can produce a lot of great ideas from many parenting sites, including here at All Pro Dad.  Here are three quick tips that I’ve ingrained to help me become a more disciplined dad.   

1)      Sit Down!  When I spot an offense, I’m often out of my seat in a flash, booming my corrective decrees and edicts.  Yet, when I choose to sit down or even kneel at eye level with my kids while correcting, I find that my volume and tone lowers with my posture.  Train yourself to immediately sit when correcting. Even better, give your spouse permission to remind you to sit with a simple hand gesture next time you start yelling at your kids.

2)      Leave the Lesson for Later.  Memorize this little alliteration pulling it out of your back pocket when you start to go loud and long.  Once you’ve stopped the bad behavior in its tracks, remember that the corrective lesson can be saved for a better time when you are calmer, cooler, and collected in your thoughts (i.e. before you start the bedtime routine).  You will save yourself a lot of time and energy from wasted lengthy loud lectures if you’ll remember, leave the lesson for later.

3)      Know Your Triggers.  Make a list and check it twice to know when you are likely to be naughty or nice.  For me, I know that the worst time I can handle correction is coming home from a stressful workday or after an important phone call.  Bad timing accounts for much of my temptation to yell at my kids, so I avoid those trigger moments by making sure I have time to destress with my wife for five minutes after calls and work. Knowing my triggers shifts me into discipline dad mode with a calmer mindset.

Dads, it takes time to change our loud lifestyle habits, but with grace we can do it.  Apologize to your kids for your failings and have a chat with your wife about your new strategies to tame the yeller in you.  Sit down, leave the lessons for later, and know your triggers as you achieve a more respectful relationship with your kids.  

Family Forte: Soothing Relief for Sinus and Sin

by: Topher Wiles

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” – Psalm 18:35


Gentleness, it’s a topic we dads don’t often talk about when we chat about raising kids.  Oh yeah, we’ll talk about discipline, training, and toughening kids up as part of our manput (that’s manly + input for those of you who don’t follow familial lingo) into the life of our family.  Yet, gentleness is that often overlooked trait that is a must for healing the maladies that plague us today.  Let’s talk about gentleness and how much you appreciate it, from the perspective cold sufferer.


photo credit:
When I have a cold, I get cranky; and nothing gets me riled up quicker than an empty Kleenex box with rough paper towel as the alternative. Paper towel is my nose’s nemesis.  You know that feeling.  Your cold is chugging forward on full steam.  You nose is running faster than Usain Bolt.  Your raw skin is redder than Santa's cheeks.  Then that dastardly event hits.  It can strike anywhere; while you're riding in a car, in a meeting at work, or in the hallway at school when you sneeze. You kindly ask for that precious commodity of facial tissue hoping for one of those name brands like Kleenex with aloe, when someone hands you the dreaded brown paper towel of death.  They may be trying to help, but you resent them as you have no choice but to rip your face off with this rough substitute for soothing nasal salvation.

You may laugh at my hyperbole, but I think it's similar to what is happening in our communities and families today.  The world around us is suffering; sometimes it’s our own families that suffer.  Some are being battered and beaten by falsehoods, fake news, and self-serving ideologies that plague our culture while others are simply indulging, unaware of the consequences, of these dastardly dilemmas. Many families today are red and raw from the daily grind of balancing work, family, study, health, and spirituality and they find themselves caught up in worldly escapes of handling these struggles.  Kids are misbehaving, spouses are fighting, and even world leaders are struggling with the wrong remedies for their problems.  Don’t believe me?  Well answer this question.  When was the last time you heard an insulted politician reply with, “That’s ok, Jesus told me to turn the other cheek.”?  Why can’t you remember the last time?  It’s probably because this world now touts roughness, rudeness, and rancor as its go-to reaction when someone else is struggling.  These remedies to problems are the equivalent of the brown paper towel for your nose; they’ll only make matters worse.


People all over are ill and need healing relief but some of us Bible believers have become Bible thumpers and have been caught by culture handing them rough paper towels of self-righteous judgment, condescension, and verbal combativeness instead of soothing relief for their "sin"us drip. The Good doctor has prescribed a better way.


Jesus came not with rough and rude speech to correct problems, but to offer healing from sin and the physical maladies He touched on earth, and he came to do with gentleness.  “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 9:35) .  Then again in Matthew 11:28-29 He says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


While you and I certainly aren’t Jesus, He did give us a mission in His healing process that includes us drawing other people to the Healer while we share comfort, hope, and encouragement.  From your face-to-face interactions with family to your Facebook reactions with souls who are ill from this world’s sin-sickness, are you the Kleenex with aloe or that resented and rough brown paper towel? 


Remember the direction Paul gives to young Titus as he preps him to deal with the world, "To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people."(Titus 3:2)  Consider this line in the epistle to the believers in Galatia, If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)


Families are struggling in America, but not just with coronavirus and a virus caused colds, but are struggling with sin-sickness.  Jesus wants you to be part of the soothing and healing process.  As you bring your family and others to the Good Doctor for healing, look at yourself and grade which type of facial wipe you represent to those struggling with sin-sickness.  


If you are more of the brown paper towel type, then maybe it’s time for you to have a healing visit to the Great Physician today.  May God bless you, your family, and the world through His gentleness.

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 Central Church 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,

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Family Forte: Four Post Election Sights Your Family Needs

by: Topher Wiles

     It’s Tuesday morning on Election Day as I sit to write and there is a lot I don’t know.  I don’t know who the next President will be during the 2021-2024 term.  I don’t know what VP is going to support, direct, and be on the ready should their leadership be needed.  I don’t know which political party will control the House and Senate.  I don’t know who will be appointing Supreme Court justices for the next few years.  Odds are, you and your family will be glued to your TV tonight, staying up late to see vote tallies and the red/blue swings of the electoral college.  There will be many sights to see on TV from people cheering, people weeping, acceptance speeches, defeat consolation speeches, and maybe even some protest footage.  Some of the sights your family’s eyes feast on in the next few days may steal their joy and peace. 

     According to a report published that year by the American Psychological Association titled “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation,”about two-thirds of Americans in 2017 said concern about the future of the country was a significant source of their stress more than money and work. The survey found a majority of people from both political parties were stressed about what it described as the “current social divisiveness.”  I’m betting your family may be feeling that stress as well from variety of sights they’ve seen this year leading up to the election and from the election day itself.  To help alleviate that family stress, please allow me to share four post-election sights I think your family needs to see from you in the coming weeks.

They need to see you holding firmly and calmly to your values, your traditions, and your identity. When the Cubs lost year after year, it was hard for people to want to stay loyal fans of the team.  Then when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, people jumped ships from other teams to jump on the winning Cubs bandwagon.  In 2019, many fans have renounced that Cubs identity due to mediocre record barely above 50%. Your family doesn’t need to see you ship-jumping just because your candidate/party/platform lost.  You chose to vote that direction based on your values, your traditions, and your identity that you previously held before the election.  Remember those intrinsic values on election night and the days afterwards and keep them as part of your stable core identity.  Your family, especially kids, thrive in stable and predictable environments, especially in the home.  Don’t be a flip-flopper, a reed blown around by the wind of change.  Let your family see you hold firmly and calmly to your positive values and principles regardless of the outcome of the election. "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." - Ephesians 4:14

They need to see you treating the new president & vice president with respect even if you disagree with them, otherwise, it may come back to bite you.  When you belittle, degrade, and trash-talk a respected official in the land, especially the highest authority in our country, your kids will likely do the same to you and your authority later down the road.  You can disagree with a presidential platform without being a disagreeable person.  Don’t yell obscene names at the TV or mutter death threats as you stomp off.  Rather, take Paul’s approach to authority when he lived under the evil rule of Roman Emperor Nero. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3.  Pray for that president in high position and let your family see you do it.  Better yet, pray together with them for the leadership of our country. 

They need to see you having hope that the world is not lost if your candidate did not win.  I’ve lived long enough to know that Chicken Little was wrong.  The sky is not falling.  God is still in control.  Remind your family of that on election night regardless of who wins. You can even reassure them that He can use whoever is in office to bring about His good will.  Afterall, didn’t he use all the evil brothers and evil circumstances in Joseph’s life to bring about the saving of people during a famine?  Remember what Joseph said in Genesis, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – Gen 50:20.

Your family needs to see you loving your neighbor regardless of how they voted or what sign they placed in their yard.  That’s right, God didn’t say, “love your neighbor as yourself only if they vote donkey,” or “treat other people as you want to be treated if they are in the elephant party.”  God said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31. 

     Jesus lived in the midst of a country guided and divided by several different religious parties such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.  The crowds who showed up to Jesus’ teachings were often a mixed bag of each, but Jesus’ teachings of loving God and respecting authorities were the same regardless of belief and affiliation.  Your family will see many sights over the next few days that may bring anxiety and stress to the household.  If you want to build your Family Forte, then ask God to help you give them the sights of you holding calmly to your identity, respecting the office of President, hoping in a future guided by God, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  

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 Central Church 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,