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A Citizen with a Purpose

I've recently struggled with how to speak into and about the deeply broken climate of these un-United States of America. I wrote a social media post recently, then removed it after a few comments clearly revealed I was risking not being endeared...and I was, based on my own fear, not “keeping peace.”

But, to fully embrace my personal purpose - "to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE" - means I must speak for those Human Beings who are in multiple ways being denied their unique purpose to live out their Truest Self as image-bearers of God.

I'm deeply concerned and angered by... 

Give the Gift of Purpose

Maybe you’re one of those gift-givers who actually thinks about the appropriateness of a gift. Does it “fit” the character, interest and personality of the person? I know people like this: my wife, Laura, our daughter, Liv, our friend Shelley. There are a few people I know whose joy comes, not only from giving, but from giving the perfect gift - for THAT person in their life. Maybe you’re one of those gift-givers: you want to give gifts that have a sense of real purpose.

Is there someone on your gift list…

Keep reading…

What's the Big Deal about a Day Off? Really.

too busy woman.jpg

It’s easy for many of us to just go, go, go. After all, this is the one and only life we have. Once we discover how we’re wired, what our talents are and what our purpose is, it’s time to "get to it," right? Maybe. But we often burn up the wonder of discovering why we exist because we don’t know how to exist without working every day of the week.

Why is it so difficult for us to unplug? To take a “day off?”

Here are five reasons we often lean in to our own demise.

*Note: if your work is in a church, feel free to replace “work” with “ministry” if that helps you.

1.     We are unaware of the energy we expend. 

My wife, Laura, chides me about my notion that I can always “get just one more thing done.” When I’m in that mode, I’m not thinking about how I feel or what may be required of me after this “one more thing.” I think I can do it all.

Many of us believe we have a limitless supply of energy. We don't know we believe it, but our behavior reveals the truth. Just one more phone call. One more conversation. A few more minutes of research. Then, although we had an unlimited sense of energy for “work,” we’re too tired to engage meaningful conversation with our spouse, visit with a friend or focus on our family.

Worse yet, a moment here, an hour there – it all adds up. And the cumulative result is sheer, life-sucking exhaustion. But until we crash and burn, we keep going. And going. And going. We keep spending energy. We’re okay, we tell ourselves, this just has to be done. ‘Til we are done.

2.     We confuse the words STOP and QUIT.

I remember an evening years ago, meeting an associate in the hallway who (ironically) asked me what I was still doing at the office. This wasn’t my first day working into the evening; it was my third or forth that week. I suppose with a tone of both pride and martyrdom, I remarked about having so much to do; it was "such a busy season."

She looked at me and said, “There’ll always be another season. After this one will be another one, and another after that. You’ll have to learn it’s okay to stop for the day.”

But to me, stopping meant quitting. It meant being irresponsible. And it certainly meant I wouldn’t be perceived as hard-working. Maybe that was it – as a perpetual people-pleaser, I wanted others to see me “not quitting.”

Regardless the reason, I’d twisted up these two words together: stop and quit. I believed they were synonymous. But, I slowly learned that I could stop and not quit. The work can always be picked up again. But, I needed desperately to STOP. To take a break. To be done for the day.

3.     We don’t know what to do with “time off.”

Most of what we read and hear about leadership is geared toward how we lead in our business, in our church or non-profit – whatever and wherever is our workplace. We don’t lack for resources related to our work: leading, building, growing, solving, innovating, processing, analyzing, reporting, succeeding. Don’t misunderstand. I want to lead better, build people, grow and develop, solve problems, innovate ideas, process challenges, analyze trends, report and succeed.

But. We know far less about what to do with “time off” from all the above. The risk is that we ONLY know how to lead, innovate and succeed. What else is there?

How do we relax? What does it mean to engage a relationship with no agenda or expected outcome? What does it look like to just walk? How do we nap with a deep sense of peace? Can we simply watch a great movie, take in a play or listen to a concert? How do we STOP and simply “BE?”

4.     We don’t know how to listen without thinking about how we’ll talk about it.

Another challenge with “time off” is that if we actually stop work and everything related to work (email, social media, reading about work), we easily fill the space with other things. Good things, things that are healthy to engage for replenishment: an inspiring movie, reading a novel, sports, travel or time with friends and family. All good. All important to refueling.

But, there is another option for that space: quiet. Blocking time to listen to the Voice within us, to nature, to God. I’ll make this personal for me. Too often my reflective journaling has a subtle but distinct second thought aside from the content: “this will be good to share with my team.” My deep soul work can become a talk tomorrow. The picture of the sunrise during my quiet morning can be taken for my next social media post. Suddenly, I'm not practicing quiet. I'm not reflecting for my soul's sake. I'm leading. I'm planning. I'm working.

Everything easily gets turned into an illustration, a story, a lesson, a piece of encouragement for someone else. Someone else we lead or feel responsible to in some way. What if we simply listened. Soaked. Dug. Felt. And that’s it. What if our gain in the quiet is lived out rather than talked out? What if our insight is for our own growth and not the next piece of wisdom that makes us a better leader?

5.     We want everyone around us to model our hard-working lifestyle.

Again, with a focus on productivity, high expectations for effectiveness and ultimate success, we demonstrate our priorities for our team. I have to talk about how busy I am, so they are encouraged to work just as hard. I need to set a pace of sacrifice so they understand the stakes are high.

And in doing so, we most certainly convey our priorities. We communicate that work is more important than marriage; productivity is valued above relationship; and the work of our hands trumps the sacredness of our soul.

What myth have you bought into?

Will you…

  • schedule time away from work?
  • honor that time?
  • give yourself to a full 24-hour period away from all work-related efforts?
  • experiment and discover what gives you rest and refuels you?

What else prevents you from taking time for YOU?

If I Care at All, I Can't Look Away.

As I write this, nearly 300 children are on our campus, playing games, climbing rock walls and learning that God loves them. It's what any child should be doing this summer. But it's not the reality for too many children - in our world, and right here at home.

I'm talking about human trafficking.

In the state of Indiana (my home state) last year the youngest reported victim of human sex trafficking was 7 years old. 7 years old. My eyes involuntarily close when I type that. My heart breaks. I want to turn away from my own writing like I've done too many times when the image of a starving child appears on my TV screen. But I can't look away

27 million people are estimated to be trafficked worldwide, producing $150 billion (U.S. Department of State). And it turns out the Midwest - the Crossroads of America - is a hotbed for this ghastly crime and victimization. I can't look away.

Last week I attended a community information meeting...

The Lens of Awareness

My wife, Laura, and I shared breakfast at "our" Starbucks this past Friday just before I headed for the airport. As I kissed her goodbye, I looked into her stunning eyes and reminded her: "I'm so thankful you're here...that you are alive." She responded with the same heart-felt expression of gratitude about me. 

And we both knew exactly the journey that led to this depth of thankfulness we share...

Right Where You Are.

A common mantra in the Church about God’s love goes like this: “God loves you right where you are, but too much to leave you there.” I’ve said it too. It’s true. 

Sometimes I wonder if our mantra risks communicating an unwillingness to love people right where they are. 

I talk to others a lot about accepting people right where they are. It’s at the core of the guest services training I do with churches and organizations. It’s what I teach. And yet, I’m embarrassed that I am still learning...

I Kept Living

This is my view everyday at my office. It has been for years. The picture of my wife, Laura, and our daughter, Olivia, on the right was taken 20 years ago at our home in Tacoma, WA.

I'm not pictured with them, because I was an hour away in Seattle, trying to gain the courage to fight for my life. I'd gotten to the edge of despair enough times for several months prior that...

Grateful You Were Born

I reminded Laura shortly after midnight - November 15, her birthday - that I am so grateful she was born. I'm a better person because God created her. Clearly.

Just hours before I'd sat in the living room with a dear lady and her family and friends, talking about the wonderful memories of her 32 years of marriage to her man. He'd died suddenly of a heart attack just the night before. 

We don't get any guarantees. Every day is a gift. 

Next week Laura and I will celebrate 32 years of marriage. I hope we have at least 32 more. But, we get no guarantees. 

So, I'll tell Laura again tomorrow "I'm so glad you were born." I'm grateful...

  • for her courage. She's

Chemo Crud. Courage. Community.

It's day six of the final week of chemo crud. That's what my wife, Laura, and I have not-so-affectionately labeled the week following chemo treatments: chemo crud week. It is cruddy.  

In case you missed it - Laura was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer this past July. This past Friday was her final chemo treatment. Chemo crud sets in no later than day two after the treatment and lasts a little longer with each treatment. Hopefully, last night's nausea and subsequent vomiting won't last more than another couple days.  

Everyone sees Laura after chemo crud week. When she's happily engaging conversation at our church building, Starbucks or elsewhere in our community. It's truly remarkable to see her smile. To experience her genuine worship as she leads us with the arts team. To admire her strength and courage.  

I see her as she is now.

Tests and Trust: A Fresh Look.

We’ve long understood from the Scriptures that our personal faith gets tested in this broken-on-itself life. It’s not as though Christ-followers get “targeted.” Jesus said “it rains on the just and the unjust.” Or in more current terms – “everybody gets crapped on – Christ-followers, too.” And when the rain pours and the crap flies, our trust in God is tested. After all, it’s one thing to soar with a smile, believing God loves you when everything is going like you hoped it would. It’s quite another to believe

Cancer, Chemo, and College | A Daughter's Reflection

Our family has always been tight. We communicate. There are no secrets. We're accepting and forgiving. We share meals together, vacation together, run errands together, enjoy Starbucks together...we do life together.  

Our only daughter, Liv, was in Arizona visiting her boyfriend's (Jacob) family when we received the news that my wife, Laura, had breast cancer. Laura had the painful task of telling Liv over the phone. Liv experienced the equally painful reality of hearing the news about her Mama - over the phone. 

We're facing the truth: this is cancer. But, there's more. 

Technology & Human Relationships | Take 2

Last week I wrote briefly about the confusion we create or at least cultivate regarding technology and human relationships. Technology isn't merely about the cool factor of an amazing product, it has the ability to enhance our relational experiences. Or not.  

I asked in last week's article for feedback: Does social media and the technology that makes it possible really improve our relationships or does it distract? I'm about to make the first comment to my own question (I'm not bitter. Not very. A little. Maybe. No, I'm not.).

From my own personal experience over the last couple weeks, my family and I have been blown away by technology and the three little app icons pictured above. 

Two weeks ago my lovely wife, Laura, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Customer Service Training Starts at Home

Don't you sometimes wish you had the silver bullet for finding great volunteers or staff for your team? Whether it's guest service peeps on your volunteer church team or your sales staff at your retail store, a silver bullet for finding "stars" would be awesome.  

In his book, A Week at the Airport, Alain de Botton notes the following about British Airways:

Still Crazy After All These Years

This is my bride, Laura, of 31 years. No, today isn't our anniversary. But, I'm celebrating her anyway. We met 35 years ago in high school. I had my eye on her for a couple of years, but she was beyond me. No way she'd want to date me. She was a good friend of my sister, so I finally avoided all risk and begged my sister to tell me what Laura thought of me. Would she go out with me?

Like I said, that was a couple decades or more ago.

Today, we're best friends and passionate lovers (with each other!). Here are 27 reasons I'm proud and grateful to be your husband, Love: