Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Very Special Day

Have you ever had a dream come true? Today was one of those days! Our family went to East St. Louis, Illinois to help my son, Matt at the Christian Activity Center where he serves as the chaplain.

We spent the day mowing, weeding, trimming and cleaning up CAC park. It is an amazing space in the middle of a very dark place. Matt ministers in the projects of the most violent city in the United States. He works with children from 5-18 years old, providing for them a place of hope and safety.



It was so cool serving alongside him. Matt is so passionate about what he does. Matt desires to impact the neighborhood by being a neighbor. Watching my other children interact and work together was very fulfilling. My children have been a part of the gospel ministry their entire lives. As Matt introduced our family to his little friends, my girls came to life.


We got so much done and had a blast doing it. I am excited to bring two more groups from Columbus Road in the next month. I would encourage you to go to http://www.cacesl.org/ to find out more about this unique ministry.




Friday, June 19, 2015

SIMPLIFY


Isn't simplify a refreshing word? I am constantly interacting with people who desire to live the "simple life." However, simplifying isn't simple. It requires incredible courage to undertake the process. In fact, it requires a great deal of work and mental effort to simplify the complicated lives we live. It doesn't help that many do not get much support from others (possibly even the people we live with), who are also living complicated lives.

The process of simplifying my life has meant painful change, but the rewards have been great. Our family eats all meals together, I spend fifteen hours of dedicated time each week with my wife, I get great sleep, and I am more productive than ever before. These are just a few of the rewards of simplifying. I had developed some very bad, dangerous, and damaging habits over the years. I believed that getting more done was the ultimate prize. Being raised in a hard-working, German, mid-western style home, I put a high priority on work and productivity. In the process of all that "work," my life became more complex as I employed all of the ways to get the most.

I have used a five step process to make dramatic changes and simplify my life. This process has given me a greater ability to be present with those whom I love and cherish. These steps may help you begin to live a simpler, more present life!


1. ANALYZE | It's important to take a long look at your life. Look at it through the lens of scripture. Read passages like Ephesian 5:15-17. Paul tells us that there is a way to live that glorifies God and there is a way to live that is foolish. It is very easy to miss the best things, opportunities, and people in our lives. 

Analyzing can take a great deal of time. Usually, a person has to stop everything to get the clear and long view. If you don't stop, it's like driving forty miles an hour while using binoculars to look at animals on the roadside.

2. REALIZE | Once you have analyzed your life, it is important that you realize what your life is not. I have never met that person who would dare say that his or her priorities are perfect. 

My advice is this: Tell the people close to you how "whacked" you really are. Let them know that you have misplaced priorities. Establish new priorities with them. Have others speak into your life. It may go something like this. "I realize I have an addiction to my phone. I have chosen to be with it more than being present with you. I have decided to change how this tool is used for the benefit of my relationship with you."

3. CLARIFY | Just because you set off on the path to a newly simplified life does not mean that you will be able to consistently stay on that new path. Circumstances, challenges, and relationships all have their twists and turns. I have found that clarifying the direction keeps me accountable to the people with whom I have committed to simplify. Clarifying is a great communication tool. It can be used to reinforce values, communicate commitment, and to define intent. 

4. APPLY | Once you have analyzed, realized, and clarified the path to a simplified life, you will have to apply. This is flat out hard work. You have heard the saying, "Thirty days is a habit made." I am not sure that is true for grown adults. What I have found to be true for me is that every day that I will chose the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I have and will continue to change my life because I want to be exactly where I am supposed to be -- in the center of God's plan for my life. Change is difficult, but knowing the incredible benefit of living the best life is incredibly rewarding.

5. MOBILIZE | As I mentioned, you will get very little help simplifying your life. Others can't understand, don't want to understand, and some work against your goals. Mobilizing is the step in which you rally those around you for a certain purpose or cause. I had to help mobilize our family to work through what it meant for us to simplify. As we assembled and began the process, it became very evident who was keeping our family from living a simplified life -- IT WAS ME!