Stay married through ‘hurricane’ years, struggles — it’s worth it


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NEW STUDY SAYS LONG-TERM MARRIAGES YIELD HAPPINESS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, World Magazine has reported on a new study: Couples that stay married for the long run end up happier, according to a new study by a Pennsylvania State University sociologist.

Paul Amato and co-author Spencer James of Brigham Young University used 20 years of data from the longest-running detailed study of marriage and looked at reported rates of happiness, shared activities and discord among 1,600 spouses, including more than 200 who have been married for 40 years or more. Contrary to previous studies, that found marital quality deteriorates over time, this new study found marital quality actually improves over the years for couples who stay together.

“Positive outcomes for couples in long-term marriages are the norm,” Amato said in an interview with the Institute for Family Studies. “Contrary to what many people think, marital quality does not inevitably decline; it tends to remain high or even improve over the decades.”

DR. REEDER: When you add the dynamic of a lifestyle engaged in a local church with regularity embedded in the life of the church, it goes out the roof in terms of longevity, perseverance, happiness and affirmation of the relationships and the increasing depth of intimacy between the husband and wife.

ALL MARRIAGES HAVE STAGES — KNOWLEDGE OF THEM IS KEY

Even as the physical and sexual dynamics begin to dissipate because of biological reasons, the emotional intimacy actually skyrockets in those days because of all that they have built upon throughout life and shared in life. And then, if they are surrounded, as I would apply, with the means of grace, preaching, and worship and fellowship then that even skyrockets it. By the way, the dip in this — I like the way the reporter said it — “the hurricane of children,” particularly in their adolescent and teenage years.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Indeed, the report says, after a slight dip in happiness and shared activities in early marriage, the hurricane of young children and careers, for that matter, happiness and shared activities improve over the years and discord declines.

DR. REEDER: Many times, your children arrive at those challenging ages — I think it starts around 11, maybe 12, what we call “being thrown into the barrel” with your kids at that age — and that usually coincides about the same time where some career decisions happen. You’ve been in your career, you’re moving along and now, “Am I going to stay in this career, move to another one or I got to take a step forward? What am I going to do?” The challenge of time devoted to career, time devoted to children, so it’s no doubt that, during those years, that’s where the “slight dip” occurs.

HARD STAGES BECOME FRUITFUL BY BIBLICAL FOUNDATION

Actually, I would like to say when you work through those years, that’s what makes the following years so expansively and explosively enjoyable with each other. What you learn together as you went through it, what you’ve accomplished together, particularly, when you apply the Biblical principles of a man giving spiritual leadership in the home and of a woman bringing that completion of emotional health and insight into the home and that she brings order into a home.

I always share with people that I know, when a home is orderly, there is an extraordinary woman in that home. And I’m not just talking about things are neat; I’m talking about the relationships are orderly. The woman sets that pattern of orderliness and, when there is a depth of concern, then I know a man is doing his job because leadership, according to the Bible, is a servant’s heart that wants to care for people and, if there’s a man who is caring for his wife and his children, that compassionate environment begins to be seen in the home.

Now, certainly, women have that great nurturing dynamic and men have that leadership, “Here’s where we’re heading,” and all of that, but I will just say I have always noted a Christian home where the husband and wife are fulfilling their overlapping but yet unique roles, men will bring that depth of intimacy that flows from their concern for their wife and women bring that depth of order that flows from their trust in the Lord working through their husband and working through them together into the lives of their children. Those things are fleshed out in those “dip/hurricane years” where it doesn’t seem so satisfying and joyous but, yet, on the other side, there’s some things that really develop out of that.

FOCUS ON WHAT DREW YOU TO EACH OTHER AND DEVELOP IT

May I just say, anecdotally, I cannot envision my life apart from my wife, just what she means to me and, hopefully, what I can mean to her. As you know because we’ve been friends for a long time, I always tell people “long courtship, short engagements,” and, in my case, it was “short courtship, short engagement.” It was a three-month courtship and a three-month engagement and that was it.

Some have said, “Do you regret that? Would you have liked to have taken longer courtship?” Are you kidding me? If I could go back and redo it, I would just reduce it down another two or three months if I could. It has been such a great blessing for me to have enjoyed my wife. I am not only attracted to her beauty, but I am astounded by her depth — the very thing that drew me into her life — but what I’m more astounded by is what we’ve been able to develop throughout the years. Tom, when we get in the car now and go on a trip, a lot of our talk is what we’ve enjoyed together throughout the years and our anticipation of what’s in the future.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, why is it in our society today that people give up so quickly on marriage?

DR. REEDER: Because they give up on everything. We live in a society today that says, “You’re entitled to happiness, not your call to holiness.” That means instant happiness — not only is everything there for you, but it’s supposed to be there immediately for you and you don’t have to work at it. “It’s mine, now, fast,” and that’s why we destroy our partners in marriage because they exist for us instead of we exist for the Lord and now we want to be used of the Lord in their life.

MENTORS FOR YOUNG COUPLES ARE VITAL

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Perhaps it might sound simplistic, but advising a young couple who are going through the hurricane challenging years of life, is it wrong just to say, “Hang in there”?

DR. REEDER: Not only, “Hang in there,” but, “Get some mentors.” That’s why I brought out at the beginning to get embedded in a good local church. And I would say to my brothers and sisters in those churches and my pastor friends, “We need to make sure we’ve got good premarital counseling in place and we need to make sure that we’ve got a way for people to develop relationships.”

One of the things we love to do at Briarwood is our Sunday Schools are called “congregational communities” and they all have older couples in them. Our young couples’ classes all have two, three or four older couples they can develop relationships with and learn from. Everybody needs fathers and grandfathers; everybody needs mothers and grandmothers in their lives. They need that all the time and so we want to give that to them.

And then you need to have a solid worship dynamic in a church that’s God-centered. The family that learns to worship God together will be able to stay together for the Lord. Worship sets the thermostat in your Christian life and that includes your marriage.

TIME TO COMMIT TO HARD WORK AGAIN — IN MARRIAGE, TOO

And then the other thing is this: it’s just like pastors give up too quickly in their churches, people give up too quickly at their job, people give up too quickly at a challenge — it’s we want it now and, if it requires effort, then I need to move onto something else.

Your marriage is going to require work — marriage is hard work — but God can enable you and God can strengthen you. He wouldn’t call you to stay together for life if He wasn’t able to keep you together for life. And, of course, it is the power of the Gospel that is life-changing and that allows our lives to change for the Lord and in relationship to each other.

LIFETIME COMMITMENT LEADS TO A LIFE OF CONTENTMENT

I told Cindy the other day, “You know, you had no business marrying me. That was about the dumbest decision you ever made of which I am eternally grateful.”

Marriage for me was like the big date — I didn’t have to take her home; now I got her. Of course, I found out pretty quickly that the big date is not a way of life. And I would wake up — literally wake up — in my first year of marriage and look and there’s Cindy and I would say, “Oh my goodness, this is the rest of my life. I’ve made a commitment. This is the rest of my life.”

That’s the way I was raised — I’d made a lifetime commitment and I’d say, “This is the rest of my life. This isn’t: take a shot and, if it doesn’t work, go try another one.” My dating life, I usually dated and I had someone different every week. So now I said, “This is my life.”

Well, I still wake up — matter of fact, I wake up more at night now than I used to — and I still look at her when I wake up and I no longer think, “This is the rest of my life.” I now think, “I’ve got so little of my life left to live with her and I’m so grateful for her.”

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

53 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.