When our health is fading away and death appears closer to our door step---there are going to be two things we'll care about: Faith and Relationships. Where do I stand with God and how are my relationships with family and maybe a few close friends?
Being a great parent is one thing we will reflect on most as we prepare to leave this world. I have read articles that interviewed people in the season. I also got to experience that in 2016, when my step father knew death was around the corner, he and I talked. From his hospital bed he said on those lonely nights when it's just him there he reflects on parenting, his relationships: do they know how much I love them? Did I tell them often enough? Have I apologized for the things I said and wrongful actions I did?
"Parenting With A Purpose" is an opportunity to have some questions to share with our age appropriate children in order to help us parent with a purpose. If you don't feel your children are mature enough yet, save them for when the time comes. I like to save things in either a note app, or I will create an email to myself and save it there. In my email I put keywords like: parents, children and questions, so when I do a search in my email--wala! Also, be creative--come up with your own digging questions or change the words around to mine. There's no wrong way to do it, besides not doing it. Communication between parents and their children is important in building & maintaining a loving and productive relationship. Children are like all people--they need to feel they have influence. Parenting with a purpose will promote that feeling, along with allowing our children to be heard and know their feelings are being considered. For parents, feedback is important. I know that I can say and do things, oblivious to how they are impacting Luke for the good and also how they hurt or frustrate him.
For my 17 year old son, this will be difficult for him. Therefore, I give him plenty of time (1-2 weeks) and I need to gently explain that we both know I can always improve in the area of parenting and these questions are to help me be a better parent. While these questions may be difficult, answering them helps me and benefits you. And who doesn't want a better parent and who doesn't want to be a better parent?
Parenting With A Purpose Questions:
1. What could I do to make you feel more loved?
2. If you were writing a mission statement for our family---what would you want the mission statement to be? Meaning, the 3 of us were tragically hit by an asteroid--how do you want us to be remembered by those left behind?
3. How can I better meet your needs? (emotional needs, spiritual needs, physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs.)
5. When you and I spend quality time together, how would you like to spend that time together? (Examples: bowling, Xbox, fishing, biking, playing musical instruments or reading a book together.)
6. What trait/characteristic would you like for me to develop or get better at?
7. What characteristic would you like me to help you develop?
8. What are some things you'd like to see us as a family complete in the next 6-12 months?
9. My Mom/Dad would be more Christlike if _______.
10. Describe a perfect day for you? Share one or more scenarios--just you, you and me or all three of us, you and friends, etc.
11. If you could change one thing about our family, what would it be?
12. What is one thing you value most in our family?
13. Looking ahead to the day you leave home, what are some things you want to be sure we have shared with you before that happens? Or what are some things we can teach you, show you, expose you to? Examples: going through Dave Ramsey's financial class, changing a tire, mission trip.
15. What do you like us doing together? (Either me and you or as a family.)
16. What would you like to do together in future, including me and Mom?
17. What overwhelms you?
18. If you could ask your parents to pray one thing for you, every single day, what would it be?
19. What are some of your greatest hopes?
20. What do you want to be remembered for?
21. Anything else you'd like to add that hasn't been covered?
Thanks for reading!
This time of the year, it's popular to reflect on where we are, what want to accomplish, where we want to go over the next year. We may look at our health, relationships, career and other areas of our lives. If we are really serious about improvement, we will set some goals and establish a plan to move forward.
Goal setting helps us decide what we want to do, which leads to who we want to become. Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels has said more than twice that our schedule should reflect who we want to become, instead of what we want to do. Goals also help us seperate whats important from what's irrelevant, or a distraction. Goals also help motivate ourselves, family, teams. They buld confidence as successful achievement in hitting goals happens.
Ever heard the phrase: "If you will aim at nothing--you will hit it every time"? I heard that line almost 11 years ago now. While I agree with it's meaning heartadly, I like the other 97% of the population has spent a lot of time aiming at nothing. In 2016 I made conquering my mountain of anger my priority, my focus. Thank God I maintained that goal for the year. I now know that it's not a one year thing, but rather a life long process...so that goal continues. This year I'm doing something different. Instead of having one thing to focus on or like most years--not having goals at all, I have made out goals and plan to spend 2017 focused on hitting those goals.
Studies show that homes earning $250,000 and more in America is about three percent (2.7%) of the population in America. Thats husband and wife togther, either one working or both working. Now, check this: three percent of people who make goals earn more than the 97% of the population combined. So, if you took all the paychecks of the 97% of those homes not making $250,000 or more, and you added all their paychecks up--they are still less than the top three percent. Can we see how big of a part "goals" likely plays in the part of top income earners?
Now, maybe you are like me and don't have a desire to become super wealthy. I enjoy making money and enjoying the fruits that come with it, but I also enjoy my time, freedom and family more. I'm not an "all out to obtain wealth" kinda guy because in most causes: more money means more commitment, more time in career and less of family and experiences. While I can admire succussful stories of those that climb to the top, I don't want to put in what it takes to get there, at the scarifice of the other things I currently enjoy. However, I do think it's wise to follow actions of those that have success. If you want to be an athlete--you must do what athletes do, if I want to be be debt free--I must do what debt free people do. If your goal is to become wealthly, then you will likely want to write out goals that will help you get there. Even if that isn't a goal, and for 97% of us--it isn't going to happen, we still need to have goals.
When making my goals out for 2017 I rememberd Pastor Bill Hybel's advice: "your calendar and goals should reflect who you want to become." I read over them a second and third time, asking myself "Does this help who I want to become or is this something I want to do". The areas I wrote goals out for are: Finance, Family, Social, Physical, Mental and Spiritual. Obviously, you want to customize your goal setting areas for you. For ideas, a simple google will help you with ideas on where to possibly set goals and also some goals to have.
Here are a few simple guildlines for goal setting:
1. Focus your efforts. Set one, two or three goals at a time for each area. When you hit one of your goals to that area, add another goal.
2. Be realistic. Setting unrelastic expecations only set us up for failure and disappointment. Make goals that are attainable goals. If you don't read your Bible reguarly now, I wouldn't set a goal to read all of it in two months. Instead reading it 3-5 times per week is more realistic.
3. Include stradegies. Develope baby steps or stepping stones that help move you towards your goals. If one goal is to lose 25 pounds, determine how you will do that. How often will you exercise? What will you do to count calories? When will you exercise (morning or night)?
4. Create manageable steps. Break down your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will lead to success. If you wish to pay off $12,000 in debt....that means you need to pay off $1000 a month, $230 a week, or just shy of $33 a day.
Three desires essential to a woman's heart, which are not entirely different from my man's and yet they remain distinctly feminine. Not every woman wants a battle to fight, but every woman yearns to be fought for. Listen to the longing of a woman's heart: she wants to be more than noticed----she wants to be wanted. She wants to be pursued. "I just want to be a priority to someone," a friend and her 30s told me. And her childhood dreams of a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her are not girlish fantasies, they are the core of a feminine heart and the life she know she was made for.
Every woman also wants an adventure to share. One of my wife's favorite films is "The Man from Snowy River". She loves the scene where Jessica, the beautiful young heroine, is rescued by Jim, her hero, and together they ride through horseback through the Australian wilderness. Another female friend says, "I want to be cherished, pursued, fought for--yes. But also I want to be strong and a part of the adventure." So many men make the mistake of thinking that the woman is the adventure. But that relationship immediately goes downhill. A woman doesn't want to be the adventure; she wants to get caught up into something greater than herself. I know myself and I know I'm not the adventure. So when a man makes me the point, I grow board immediately. I know that story. Take me into one I don't know."
And finally, every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil. Not to conjure, but to unveil. Most women feel the pressure to be beautiful from very young, but that is not what I speak of. There is also a deep desire to simply and truly be the beauty, and be delighted in. Most little girls remember playing dress up, or weeding day, or "twirling skirts", those flowing dresses that were perfect for spinning around in. She'll put her pretty dress on, come into the living room and twirl. What she longs for is to capture her daddy's delight. My wife remembers standing on top of the coffee table as a girl of five or six, singing her heart out. "Do you see me?" ask the heart of every girl. "And are you captivated by what you see?" she wants to know.
The world kills a woman's heart when it tells her to be tough, efficient, and independent. Sadly, Christianity has missed her heart as well. Walk into most churches in America, have a look around, and ask this question: What is a Christian woman? Again, don't listen to what is said, look at what you find there. There is no doubt about it. You'd have to admit a Christian woman is tired. All we've offered the femininine souls is pressure to "be a good servant." No one is fighting for her heart; there is no grand adventure to be swept up in; and every woman doubts very much that she has any beauty to unveil.
book "Wild at Heart"
Thanks for reading! I feel we can each learn from this blog post!
"I can live for a month on a good compliment." -Will Rogers
A quick post on a golden nugget that has been told to me by multiple people in 2016 and I have found to dramaticly be effective:
Affirming improves us, other people and relationships.
As women motivate their man in positive ways, men are energized to love them better. When men affirm their lady, she is brightens up. Men need respect in order to love, women need love in order to respect" from the book "Love and Respect" by Dr Emerson Eggerichs.
If your marriage or any other relationship could use some hope, try affirming. Write yourself reminder notes, set reminders on your phone--whatever it takes! We need reminders because this typically isn't the norm for most people. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is good or seems like there is no hope--affirming helps! After all, who doesn't want to be loved and appreciated?
The Christmas Story
Pastor Steve Carter's message at church this morning inspired this blog entry. You can view Steve's message "The Christmas Story" at: https://willowcreek.tv/
It's said that many have viewed God in the same way they view or think of their earthly father. For some of us that is a great picture, but for the majority, it's not a pretty site. It's a great reminder to Dads of how vital their role is in setting examples. For me, this great responsibility is a tough one because right away I think of my shortcomings: I have been strict with my son, demanding, critical, seeing his mistakes over the good he does, and so on.
Regardless of how your father was or is in modeling Christ love, God is so much better. If your Dad is your #1 hero, God is so much better. If your Dad isn't a Dad at all to you, God is your Dad, and He yearns to hear from you--to be in relationship with you. Whatever you didn't receive from your earthly father, you can receive from your Father in Heaven. Relationships are what matter to God most, and you aren't an exception.
The story of Christmas is God left Heaven for earth, why? Relationships! He knew that because of sin, without His son Jesus, a sin free sacrifice, we could never have a relationship with him. Here are a couple of reminders on that entrance:
1. A young girl, about a sophomore in high school, gave birth to the son of God. #EveryoneMatters
2. God chose to leave Heaven to enter the world in the form of a baby, born in a barn, surrounded by animals. #humility
Based on the two reminders, it's clearly evident that God's power and greatness works in "less than ideal" circumstances. Imagine, being Mary for a moment: a young virgin girl that has become pregnant, while living in a culture where not being pregnant by her husband meant shame, embarrassment, betrayal or even death--stoned for adultery. Can you imagine what your feelings may have been if you were Mary or Joseph? When we have fear and worry rising up to take over, we need to remember God is there, waiting in less than ideal circumstances. He still does miracles in those situations. After all, Jesus was born in less than ideal circumstances. Not only can God can do great in less than ideal circumstances, His power and greatness works best in the messy, the less than ideal. No matter where you are today, His grace goes out to those in the "less than ideal".
Christmas is for me, but not just for me, Christmas is for you, but not just for you. Christmas is for everyone, always!
The great message of Christmas is that Jesus chose to humble himself for you. Scripture tells us: "Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. -Phil. 2:6-8
"So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them"
Spiritual gifts are those things that come natural, the things that are easy for us to do. Those gifts are things God has put in us for His purpose. A pastor probably has the gift of public speaking, faith, teaching and/or leadership. He uses those gifts to love others and for God. A few of my gifts are: hospitality, discernment, creative communication. Hosting strangers at our bed & breakfast and communicating are very easy for me, and come naturally. I am frequently commented on my hospitality and detail communication. Yes, discernment probably comes easier than I realize, but I'm not as convinced on that one yet! :-)
Gifts from God vary person-to-person, but they are put in us by God, to be used for God. God has put the gift of encouragement in my wife. She feels loved when others give her words of affirmation and she loves others well by giving words of affirmation. I do not love others well with my words. Maybe sometimes, but not even close to the level that Jenn does. I love others best by spending time with them and helping them. I feel loved when someone helps me and so I easily love others by helping them. God uses both of our lives for His purpose. An easy example: I was feeling down this Father's Day, a somewhat typical thing for me, but much more elevated this year for some reason. Along with missing my Dad, the factors that contributed tiredness, love tank empty from Chris not taking care of Chris. Even after church and a great sermon by John Maxwell, I was down. When we got home from church, Jenn and my son Luke read letters to me--showering love, gratitude and their thankfulness for me over my soul. It was a difference maker! God used their two lives to bless me when I was feeling blue.That was God putting gifts in them, using them to bless me. Another example: A friend I'll call John Doe to save embarrassment, recently told me in the presence of others how my presence of time and acts of service had been a difference in his time of need. God put gifts in me and used me to bless someone else in their time of need. That's God putting gifts in us, to be used by God for His purpose.
To discover your spiritual gifts, take a simple quiz like this one or simple google: "Spiritual Gifts Test" to find other test more to your liking.
Facebook: Chris Chaffin
Last December, Willow Creek Community Church teaching Pastor Steve Carter did a sermon titled, “Can You Name Your Mountain?” In that message, Steve’s challenge was to identify the thing, the issue that had plagued us or haunted you. That thing that has been dominant for awhile, the thing that we wish didn’t exist or wasn’t our struggle. It's the thing you know about and even your friends and family can identify with you. Instead of dealing with the issue, you've been like the Israelites that circled the mountain for 40 years. Steve wrapped up his sermon citing Deuteronomy 1:6 “You have stayed at this mountain long enough--now move”
That sermon on December 27th 2015 was the beginning of me addressing my mountain. It was easy for me to name my mountain. I told close family and friends that in 2016 I was going to put my time and effort into conquering my mountain of “Anger”.
Prior to Recover, I had blindly told close friends: my men's group and our couples small group, “Anger would always be a part of who I am”. I suggested that, “my anger may get better, but angry is always who I will be.” Well, God has truly made me a believer in Him! A believer in His power to break chains and change lives if I would have a little faith and put in some effort.
Today, the daily anger I carried, battled and lashed out to others is basically non-existent. I still get triggered, but now I am educated on how to handle my frustration, instead of reacting. My response when I'm triggered is now much healthier and doesn’t dominate the rest of my day, my thinking---it doesn't dominate me nothing like it used to.
Along with setting me free from anger, some of my other issues God has used Recover to help me with: people-pleasing, low self-esteem & low self-worth, co-dependency, controlling tendencies and overcoming fears. Prior to Recover, I and some close to me believed I was fearless. I used to laugh and poke fun of people that struggled with what I called irrational or silly fears. But Recover revealed the truth that I also had fears and they weren't silly, but just differed from those other people struggled with. My fears were centered around control and pain: fears of not being in charge, fear of myself failing, fear of the possibility of seeing loved ones fail, and my fear of getting too close to other people--because I also battle co-depency. Meaning when I get close to people, I would want to "fix" them, tell them what they should do, etc. Today, I know that I don't need to be in control, it's ok to fail and it's not my job to try to fix anyone because I can't.
Today, I’m so thankful and very humbled that God has taken away the demons of anger that haunted me daily and has made me into a man that has more joy, more peace, more acceptance, is more realistic, more graceful, less fearful, less controlling, a totally happier person and to quote my wife, “Certainly more loving.” Certainly more loving is what she sees, but the beauty of Recover is "certainly more loving" is what I now feel on a daily basis. I tell people that the decision I made to come to Recover, I put in the top 2 best decisions I’ve ever made. And here’s why I say that: when I came to Recover, my anger prevented me from loving my family remotely close to how I am commanded to do or even close to how I wanted to. Because before going to Recover the truth is I didn’t love myself, therefore I couldn’t love others. Imagine living everyday not loving yourself, who you are, living with what you’ve done in the past define you are. It's depressing and tiring carrying all that shame and carrying all the anger I had to others due to how I had been hurt by them. Hurts they may be aware of, most hurts they probaly aren't even aware of. Yes, angry at others, bitter towards others and unforgiving is who I was and who did it hurt? Me! No one else, just me. Why would I want to bring that upon myself? Today, I'm living daily with a new mind, set free from all the garbage I carried and having the ability to love myself is why I make Recover one of the best decisions I have made.
Now the best part: God took down and broken Chris, and made me new. That would have been enough. If that’s all God did for me on this 11 month old journey--I would have been grateful. But He’s blessed me more! My wife saw the improvements God was making in me, so she chose to start attending Recover. She is now in a step-study, working on her inventory and I have gotten to witness vast improvements God is doing in her, which has lead us to having the best relationship we ever thought was possible.
And with that, I’ll pass!
My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to get another one. My son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one.
Like me, you may have many, many responsibilities, titles, projects and happenings going on year-round or maybe it comes and goes for you - your busyiness is extra crazy just in a certain season for you. Some seasonal outdoor workers get to slow down or take advantage of having some extra days off as the snow and cold approaches. Others of us ramp up towards the end of the year: year end meetings, taking clients to dinner, next years department goals, maybe getting a head start on business taxes, work parties, church parties, charity holiday gatherings, gatherings with friends & neighbors, ordering and mailing Christmas cards, extra family activities such as Christmas light seeing or ice skating, volunteering, gift shopping, Christmas programs and of course breakfast with Santa. This comes along with the norm: 8-12 hour a day job duties, going to kids ball games & performances, taking kids to events, vehicle maintence, cooking dinner, laundry, cleaning house, paying bills, etc. Isn't it no wonder that health studies show that the final eight weeks of the year can be burdensom?
The list above has some fun things, some honorable activities, some are just life's stuff, and many are good things or lead to good times - but are they the best things? Do good things in life keep you from the best things in life? Being honest, I have to say, "yes-I have been guilty of letting a whole lot of good things trump the best things for me". For various reasons, such as anger, seeking affirmation and people pleasing - I struggled to set boundaries to protect myself from burnout. I neglected rest, stillness, peace, quiet, love, family, friends, so that I could over-work, over-volunteer, help those outside my inner circle. God and my family received my leftovers: the little time I had left over for them - you know come home late, tired, hungry, sore, grouchy, running on "E". Then I'd ask God: "please help me do it all over again tomorrow cause right now I'm drained." Those I loved most received the least from me: time, love, affirmation, joy, etc.
Pastor Bill Hybels has preached to Willow Creek Community Church several times and at least the last couples years, on the importance of our calendar. Those sermons are full of great nuggets, but Bill's overall and bottom line point is: "Our calendar should reflect who we want to become, rather than what we want to get done." If I want to gain a degree- school becomes a priority on my calendar. If I want to richen a certain relationship with a friend - I put their name on my calendar. If I want to become wise - reading books goes on my calendar. If I want to become more loving - church, counseling and reading may go on my calendar. Get the point?
So, who do you want to be? Maybe you are already there, and if you are that's great! I suspect many of us are more like me and aren't quite there yet. As a husband and a Dad, I want to do those two things great. Not perfect, but I want to give my all. I want to give my best towards being the best husband and father I can be. My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to go get another one, and my son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one. On my deathbed I want to be able to look back and say, "I didn't start out great, but with God's help I turned it around and then I gave them my best."
In a near-future blog post, I will share a guide to help spouses and parents in being more intentional in loving their family well. From my experiences and discussions, most of us go through life without a plan of who we want to be or who we want to become. We focus much more on what we want to accomplish instead. And in life, when we get down to it - who we are or who we become is much more important than what we do. And I cannot think of anything better to impact ourselves and our world that being or becoming a great spouse and a great parent.
This morning I was reminded of a truth that I have long struggled with. Sharing here, because, perhaps I'm not alone.
Being critical of other people, feeling bitterness towards anyone else, and judging others only leads to harming ourselves. These actions don't hurt anyone else and can't we agree that they do not solve the issue at hand?
A couple of examples: judging politicians does nothing to the politician. Gossiping and judging a person at a restaurant based on what they are wearing--does nothing to that person. It doesn't make the person go home and dress the way you feel they should be dressing, right? These actions simply invite more harm, anger, hate into our own lives. So the question then is: why would we want to invite that into our minds, spirit and soul?
Also, those of faith are not to judge those without faith. That's God's job. He is responsible for them, not us. Why would we expect non-Christians to act like Christians? If we don't have a personal relationship with God, we aren't intentionally learning and seeking more of God, we aren't putting in daily practices or habits = we aren't going to act like God desires. Our hearts aren't going to be in line with His. In my opinion this is where those outside the church see us as haters, better than, holier than thou---because we are attempting to get them to live to a standard that they have never claimed to.
The Bible is pretty clear however in that we are to judge our brothers and sisters = those of faith. Jesus judged the Pharisees, "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" Pretty severe! The whole Sermon on the Mount is a series of condemnations of the evil teachings and practices of the Pharisees. Jesus told them that they should judge, but with a different standard than they had been using. He said, "Moses gave you the law, none of you keep the law...do not judge by appearances, but judge with the right judgment. (John 7:19). John the Baptist judged King Herod for marrying his brothers wife contrary to the law of God (Matthew 14:3-4). He was beheaded for it. Jesus said no one greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). There are pages and pages of correct judgment in the Bible. The Bible says in a few parts that we were to rebuke our brothers for sin and if they apologize we are to forgive them. Matthew 18:15 instructs to point out fault--keeping it between us and them and then that person will be thankful. And even here juding is to be done with grace and mercy. If I approach one of my fellow Christians to point out consistent or intentional sin I'm witnessing, the goal must be reconciliation back to God, not to shame them, to provoke them to anger, sadness, rage.
Loving those outside the church includes not judging them or holding them to a standard they never strive for or claimed to hold dearly. Holding Christian brothers and sisters accountable to God's word--rebuking them for sin, helps them and also ourselves. If we are going to judge, follow John 7:24 and judge correctly. Jesus has plainly revealed that those who abide in His ways will judge with righteous judgment.
In last night's game #7 World Series game (an all-time classic), the Cubs went up 5-1, only to see the Cleveland Indians pull off an improbable rally to tie the game at 6-6. Then, just before extra innings, the weather nearly turned disastrously for both teams, when rain forced a delay in the game. While the delay only lasted 17 minutes, it still meant players, particularly pitchers, would cool off while waiting for the rain to pass.
Surprisingly, Cubs players said the rain delay actually helped. During the delay, struggling star outfielder Jason Heyward, who signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs this offseason, called a players-only meeting that rallied the team. When asked about meeting, Heyward told Fox reporters: "I just had to remind them of who they were. I just had to remind everybody who we are. ... Win or lose, we were never worried about that... The beginning of every day, we never worry about wins or losses, we just worry about how we're gonna go out there, have fun, compete, be right there for the guys next to us, and not take the situation for granted."
The leadership Heyward was able to provide at that moment is what his teammates will long remember. They will long forget his struggles this season: the strikeouts, being benched, etc. They will remember when their backs were against the rope and hope was slipping away, one man stepped up to remind them of who they were. They will remember the impact of Jason's leadership in that emotional moment.
When we are going through storms of life or we are on the dark path, don't we all need a Jason Heyward in our life to remind us of who we are?!
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.