If it weren’t for Facebook post, I wouldnt have a clue about a Florida shooting. That’s how much I have given up on the media. Unfollowed on social media, turn the radio station when music ends and we gave up television news several years ago. The last few months I have been in church on Sunday mornings and from the pulpit they pray for a recent tragic event—and I’m clueless to what they are talking about. I may do a google search or more often I just lean over to my wife and ask her, ”what is he talking about?”
I gave up the media because I couldn’t name a positive way it was helping me. I discovered it was quite the opposite. It was draining, triggering. It’s like someone calling you to rape your ears with all the bad they know or can think of. What good is it for me to know who got shot, by who, how many to date, what the President said, did, didn’t say, didn’t do, may do? And while I more recently tend to be a libertarian or still left of center voter, the media’s bias, obvious agendas and blunt prejudices towards republicans was the final straw for me. I gave them all up in 2017 as quick as I gave up tobacco consumption in September 2006. I was ready, done, games over.
Does anyone have any possible positives they are gaining from tv, radio or social media news pages? I found any network is so far one sided that the news is driven to meet an agenda or audience, more than reporting facts. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC—any of them are usuless to me. Facts are facts-and it’s important sometimes (not often) that we know the facts. An example: a tornado is approaching. The only news I seek is because it impacts me some is from the weather channel app! 😂
It’s common—we talk about guns, shootings, psychological drugs, and such the days after a shooting. But then it fades away for a new hot topic issue: North Korea. It gets discussed and then it’s gone for something else that’s “hot” and doesn’t matter: the Grammys—she said this and is wearing this....stuff when we get down to it—doesn’t matter.
I want to be intentional in focusing on what matters and helping others with those things also. I think deep down we each want to add value to ourselves and be value to others. We just need encouragement and helping flipping that switch, at least I sure did. Deep down we know what’s on media sources doesn’t matter a super super duper majority of the time. We can not watch or listen and still have life and probably a better one honestly. Hearing that stuff sets up and moves in to our brains and subconscious—before we know it, we are locking doors and afraid to go out at night alone. Oh wait!
Here are are some things you likely won’t find on the media, but truly matter:
•Our health—it’s truly our wealth. Without health-what do we have? Nutrition, exercise, vitamins, counseling, feeding our souls, bodies the best!
•Relationships: our friends and family—community is huge! I’ve counseled men the last couple of years and I see time and time again-the root cause of so many issues like addiction is loneliness! We can be in a room of 100 people and be alone. I can have 4000 Facebook friends and be alone. We need that one-on-one Face to face time, a group of same gender people to do life with. The quality of our relationships is a predictor of the quality of our lives because most of life’s meaning lies within the context of other people. We’re mothers and fathers and spouses, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, employers and employees and teachers and students. So it’s in those relationships that we can do the most good and experience the most meaning. We are at our most noble and decent when we are in the service of others. When we lift people, we are likewise lifted. Besides, an isolated life is a self-absorbed one. But the irony is that a life exclusively or even mostly focused on the self is a life missing a fundamental ingredient to purpose and happiness.
•Values: how we prioritize our time, energy and attention. without them is ultimately utilitarian, self-absorbed and unhappy. Our values act as anchors in storms and strings on kites, adding the tension that creates lift but also keeps us from nose-diving into trees or flapping aimlessly in the wind to nowhere. PURPOSE!
•Faith: faith is a principle of action. It inspires and leads and directs and moves us to do, to overcome, to believe and accomplish. What you believe in — what you trust as right and wrong, true and false, good and bad — plays a significant role in how happy you are able to become. Faith is the expectant exercise of hope. It is the root to the tree of action. It is the seed of planning and goals and steps taken toward dreams and through challenges and into happiness. Faith propels us into the dark through to the other side of night. It takes us by the hand across the bridge or along the ledge when the next step is obscured and uncertain. It’s what takes us to the heights of possibility because we believe that wherever we rest now, there’s something more, something higher, something greater down the road. That is the offspring of faith. For many of us, faith in God is an added bedrock of assurance upon which we can build. That faith becomes a lighthouse in the darkest moments in our lives and a more accurate mirror of who we are and what we can accomplish when we’re thinking very little of ourselves.
•Self respect: having boundaries helps with self respect. Self respect has us simply live differently than those who aren’t keyed in on self respect. They don’t do the same things. They don’t think the same things. They don’t believe the same things. And they don’t allow the same things from others. They simply live different lives in some fundamental ways. Don’t get me wrong. Respect or none-they both eat and sleep and love their kids. But what they think about themselves and how they treat themselves and talk to themselves and what they believe about themselves are profoundly different. Profoundly. And that’s a dividing point between those who are happy and those who struggle much more than they need to.
i highly encourage you to focus on the things that truly matter. I think you’ll find it to be truly beneficial.
This morning I enjoyed listening to a good interview of my favorite music artist, Bob Seger:
He was good friends with Glenn Frey of the Eagles. They lived near each other and spent time together often. Glenn sang back up on Seger's first hit "Ramblin Gamblin Man", released in 1969. Glenn was almost in the group: "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band" but Glenn's Mom said, "No, that's crazy-you aren't going to be in a rock n roll band."
Bob Seger began singing in 1963, and didn't make it big until the mid 1970's. He said he didn't begin making money with music until the mid 70's. Up until then he played in college Fraternity's, pubs, etc. In 1976 Bob was playing 200 shows a year and got to play in the Pontiac Silverdome.
In the 1980's after Bob has some hits out there and money saved up, he took a break for 15 years to be a Dad. He said, "I didn't want to be the Dad that was never around. I became car-pool Dad, attending ball games and buying pizza at midnight on the weekend for my kids. During that time I still played around with singing, wrote, played instruments and visited local pubs to hear the men & women that dreamed of making it. Chevy helped me do that when they used my song "Like A Rock" for over a decade selling trucks."
I hit pause on the interview podcast, so I could publish this post. The two big take aways I heard from the early part of the interview:
1. Glenn Frey's Mom could have easily crushed his dream, his ability to use his gift for the world. Parents: we do not know what gifts or career God has implanted in our children. Instead of trying to stomp that desire or dream--inspire them! Encourage them! Call out the best in them! Our career shouldn't be our identity, so no matter what dreams your children have - help them vision it and obtain it. After all, it's their life - not yours. When we use our gifts-work doesn't feel like work and we can bring excellence to God and others. Excellence honors God and inspires others!
2. Thankfully for some reason Glenn Frey didn't listen to his Mom. We are to honor and love our parents, but there comes a time when we can hear them---but not obey their wishes. This is true in the area of our faith, our career, and how we raise our children. It's our life to live and hopefully live it for God while being connected to Him - our hand in his hand. I admit this has been an area of struggle for me at times. I still hear by Dad's voice in my head at times telling me, "Don't do that, that's wrong, you know the right way, etc." One recent example, shoes were not to be at the front door of our home growing up. Shoes were to go in the closet. Not at the front door---or else! It was one of many rules Dad had that was to be followed or reap the consequences. Today me and my family take our shoes off at the front door and we have a show rack there. We also have two side-by-side rugs for shoes that are wet or dirty from the outdoor elements. The other day I came in the house and my wife's shoes where on the floor - near the door, just inside the front door. When I came in the front door, the door was hitting her dress shoes. My frustration immediately rose up inside and I heard Dad's voice, "Your shoes do not go at the front door". Thankfully I paused, didn't say a word about it. I now realize that my moment of frustration was because I was still trying to please my expectant Father, who passed away 18 years ago. I connected those dots yesterday evening, after my wife and I left a counseling session. The things I believe are right and wrong and preferences are still tied to me trying to please my Dad, and it cannot be done. Like Glenn Frey not listening to his Mom, it's time for me to not listen to my Dad.
Have you ever wondered: “How can I resist junk food cravings”? For so long, I didn’t think it was possible - but now I know!
Studies show that exercise does help with cravings and weight loss. Studies show that more and more of Americans are making exercise a priority - but at the same time our obesity rate continues to climb. Maybe more people out there are like I was - justify a terrible diet by working out hard at the gym. Years ago, I would work out at the gym—even do a hard core spinning class a couple days a week - then meet friends at Buffalo Wild Wings for chicken wings, fries, sodas or beers. I bet you can guess how much progress in the area of fitness I made! 😂
Ever notice how the more sugar you eat-the more sugar you want? I know I’ve had hours, days, and seasons like that. We go to a festival, we eat all the sugar, fried, and other good tasting things we can get our hands on. Then the next day we still want more unhealthy food!!
You are pretty curious “How can I resist junk food cravings” or you wouldn’t have read this far, I’m suspecting. I discovered the answer last month through my nutrition and wellness coach. Before beginning her program my coach told me: “Chris, your cravings will go away on this program”. I trusted her, as I trust most people. But little did I know, those cravings were gone on day #2 of the program. Truly amazing! I was a fast food one or two times almost days through the week and at restaurants with friends and family on the weekends. I was a sugar addict—I craved sugar from out of bed to back to bed. I could sit down and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream within 30 minutes. I ate ice cream often in a week. If it was in the house-it wasn’t for long! I am thankful that I no longer have those desires. Sugar addict = no more! I haven’t had a single bite of ice cream since beginning this nutrition program. That may not mean much to you, but it’s utterly mind blowing to me!
Are you still wondering “How can I resist junk food cravings”? Here’s the honest to God truth as I know it: as my coach told me, on this nutritional program- your cravings will go away! It’s truly amazing! It’s not a might or they could - they will! If ice cream isn’t your thing, insert your struggle and my program is going to take away those cravings, help you with those struggles. I’m one of thousands of examples in my private coaching Facebook group.
When the normal person feels our body is craving nourishment, we get some food, right? But the food we put in our mouth isn’t full of the nutrition our body is craving, so the craving continues. The body isn’t receiving the nourishment it is seeking. Even if we eat fruits, veggies, non GMO, vegan, gluten free, organic- the nutrition your body wants and will take away your cravings can’t be bought or eaten at your grocery store or restaurants.
Are you still wondering “How can I resist junk food cravings”? Here is the answer:
The nutrition program I am on and now doing what I can to share with everyone, gives our bodies the healthy super nutrition our body craves. That is the answer to how you can resist junk food cravings. I will say it this way: when we give our bodies the healthy super nutrition our body is craving = the cravings go away. So, how does this work? The quick answer is simple. The long answer is: I have one regular fork & knife meal each day - either lunch or dinner. My other two meals come from my nutritional program. They are super foods! Lots of nutrition packed into each meal. Those two meals provide 23 different vitamins and minerals and lots of healthy amino acids at each sitting. No chemicals, no supplements that make me unusual wired and jittery. The company test all the raw ingredients for authenticity. The program provides a diet that is rated HIGHER than the heart healthy diet! The program is backed by good science and by practitioners. Best of all the system is simple and the meals are delicious. This program reduces stress in your life. When my body began getting the healthy nutrition, I felt the stress & anxiety fading away. This system saves on meal prep, grocery shopping and it’s even ships to your front door on the date you choose. It’s a simple, delicious system that reduces stress.
I wish I had had this years ago! I just imagine the impact it would have had on my health, my friends and my family members that have already said yes. The program doesn’t cure, treat or prevent any disease. What I believe to be true based from Health professionals on the program: the program infuses the body every single day with the nutrients our cells need to survive. You can be the best practioner with the best advice, the best therapies, the best tools - if your subject or patient does not have the basic units of life, the basic nutrition to allow the cells to be healthy - they will not be healthy over a period of time.
I would love to share more about this amazing nutrition program didn’t get your feedback! I have a private coaching group on Facebook that is full of information about the program, great articles in science, tons of transformation, great recipes and work out tips. I think you will be blown away and inspired by the transformation pictures and stories, along with all the healthy information there as much as I have been. The group is thousands of people strong, sharing with and encouraging each other on this journey to health & wellness.
If you are seriously looking for a way to do away with unhealthy cravings, shread some pounds, add some lean muscle, increase your metabolism, gain some energy, sleep better, or maybe you are looking for a way to just be a healthier person, or maybe you are curious about the program- you are nosy... that is perfectly OK. Being nosy and joining the private coaching group is how I was inspired and began doing the program. To find out more, Drop your name in the comments below, send me a private message on Facebook or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Like church, my salvation, going through a recovery program, getting married, having my son-it has been a positive life changing thing that I am so glad that I said yes to.
What are you thankful for today? How has God blessed you today, this week, this month, this year?
Thanksgiving is a profoundly Christian holiday in that it focuses us on the God as the true source of all our blessings. As the hymnwriter said, "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all."
Psalm 107:1 says: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
If you find yourself struggling to name what we are thankful for, maybe we can just pray Psalm 107:1 this Thanksgiving: “Lord, thank you for your goodness and your love that last forever.” I think that’s a lot to be thankful for right there, how about you?
To receive a gift and say, “Thank you,” is one of the noblest things a man can do. There is nothing small or trivial about it. To say “Thank you” is to acknowledge that we have been given something we did not earn and do not deserve. Happy is the man who understands that all of life is a gift of God and that life itself is the ultimate gift. Which is why the Bible says, “In everything give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) When we can’t do anything else, we can always be grateful. As someone has said, “If you can’t be thankful for what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.” Ever thought about that? I heard it said once: if you sat around a table with other people and everyone wrote their problems down and placed them in the middle of the table-you would be happy to grab your problems back.
Thankfulness: What is one or two things it takes to be thankful?
One thing it takes to be thankful is humility. We don’t get trophies or rewards for humility. From the moment we enter the world we are urged to get ahead, to climb the ladder, to look out for number one, to win through intimidation, and to prove our success by the car we drive, by the home we buy, by the clothes we wear, our job title and by the friends we keep. And Chicago is a high status-conscious city in America. Walk down the likes of Michigan Avenue and you’ll see $725 outfits for sale, $500 purses and people wearing T-Shirts that say, “The One Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins.” (When I see that, I always want to say, “So what? Dead people don’t play with toys.") To be thankful definitely takes humility.
Something else it takes to be thankful: mindfulness. Anyone know what mindfulness is?
Mindfulness is a state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s a mental state achieved by focusing on one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. For me mindfulness looks like this: I am sad that I need to have surgery due to my acid reflux. Practicing mindfulness I reflect: Chris is thankful he has access to so many foods, has financial blessings to dine out more than he should, and has excess to great hospitals and doctors to correct his problem. Then I think: Lord my problem is nothing compared to so many. I have clean water, heat, air conditioning, transportation, food, family, friends, church, freedom. I don’t have cancer, I have a healthy heart, I have eye sight, i have never had surgery, I have opportunities, I can hear everything and everyone-except a lot of things my wife says to me! :-)
How I practice “mindfulness” is reflecting on how blessed I am and how much worse things could be.
So again, are you thankful today? How has God blessed you today, this week, this month, this year? Can you allow yourself to get humble and practice mindfulness?
Let’s practice: what are you thankful for today? Now, think of a problem you have or a situation you aren’t happy with. Practice mindfulness…..does anyone feel comfortable sharing an example of mindfulness? It doesn’t necessarily have to be your problem, I’m just looking for a good example of mindfulness.
Thankfulness: Did you know if we spent time each day writing down or just naming what we are thankful for-our mood, attitude will be a little more positive? And also when those sad or angry times come to us-if we will start naming what we are thankful for, a calming presence will come? Pondering and naming what we are thankful for brings peace, joy, and maybe even laughter to our spirits. What we think about goes to our hearts and becomes word and actions. Our words and actions come from the heart. Things that get to our heart begin with our thinking. So when Jesus said “Above ALL else-protect the heart for your life flows from it”....we now know that to protect our heart begins with our thinking.
Do you know everyone has problems? Even highly impactful people and the happiest people we can think of- have problems just like you and I. We all have that in common. The difference is some people don’t get stuck on their problem, they don’t let it define who they are and here’s the key—they take healthy steps in dealing with their struggles. They are intentional in growing & getting better.
What are some healthy steps we can take to deal with problems?
Healthy steps such as Bible reading, counseling, church, recovery programs, reading good spiritual books, watching good spiritual videos & shows, serving-giving to others..these healthy things keep the problem they have from growing & paralyzing them. The healthy steps l/we mentioned help us recover, help us heal, help us become more loving and propel us on to the road of better things God has for us.
What are some unhealthy steps we can take towards our problems?
Unhealthy steps like ignoring my issue, escaping from the issue with drugs, alcohol, overeating, over spending, excessive tv, internet or video games only keeps the problem there, likely growing and adds to the problem regret and shame from what we did to cope or escape from our problem.
We all have problems, it’s how we handle them is the difference maker.
Every year we are going to find ourselves in a world filled with problems, doubts, worries, and fears. We sing “Joy to the world,” but there is not as much joy as we would like. Too many unhappy people walk our city streets. Today we aren’t as cheerful as we ought to be. If we ask a dozen people “Why aren’t you more cheerful?” the answers we get are liable to be some form of:
“You don’t know what I’m going through.”
“How can I can be cheerful when my marriage is falling apart?”
“God seems so far away.”
“If you lived with my husband (or my wife), you wouldn’t be so happy either.”
“My kids drive me nuts.”
“I’ve got cancer. How can I rejoice?”
“I’m stuck and I can’t change.”
“People have mistreated me and I’m not going to be happy until I get even.”
“If I had more money, I’d be happy.”
Those answers offer a revealing peek inside what people are thinking and feeling. And they lead us to a crucial insight: What we do depends on what we believe. Action is controlled by conviction. Whatever is on the inside will show up on the outside sooner or later. People who are perpetually miserable generally have made a series of choices that led them to that sad condition. You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).
It’s also true that every year we can find ourselves in a world filled with blessings, faith, peace, contentment. The choice is up to us—what we chose to think of. There’s benefits to being thankful, don’t you agree?
May I give you a bit of homework as a practical way to apply this message? Sometime between now and Thanksgiving, take a sheet of paper and write at the top Reasons to Rejoice Today. Then give yourself five or ten minutes and list as many reasons as you can think of to be thankful. I did that today and here’s the list I came up with in a few minutes:
1) My sins are forgiven
2) I have a Savior
3) Wise Christian friends
4) A good church fellowship
5) The Word of God to guide me
6) The Holy Spirit to lead me
7) A wife who loves me
8) A son that has always been good to me
9) Good health
10) My 4 needs are met: shelter, food, clothing, transportation
11) Too much extra stuff: clothes, shoes.
12) Ability to read
13) Answered prayers
14) People who pray for me
15) A growing business
16) Each day = new start
17) When I die, things get better not worse
Forbes Magazine interviewed over 200 ultra-productive people including seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 20 straight-A students and over 200 successful entrepreneurs. They were asked a simple, open-ended question, “What is your number one secret to productivity?” After analyzing all of their responses, their answers were coded into 15 unique ideas:
•ENERGY IS EVERYTHING
Food, sleep, breaks
•CONSISTENT MORNING ROUTINE
Nurture the mind & body (exercise, journal, meditation)
•AVOID MEETINGS AT ALL COST
Get out of meetings whenever you can, hold fewer of them yourself, and if you do run a meeting, keep it short.
•PROCESS EMAIL ONLY A FEW TIMES A DAY
Schedule time to process email quickly and efficiently.
•USE A NOTEBOOK
Write everything down, it frees the mind...That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school.
•MAKE IT HOME FOR DINNER
Values of the successful include: family time, exercise, giving back
•BEAT PROCRASTINATION WITH TIME TRAVEL
People buy veggies for the week, only to throw them out later. What can you do now to make sure your future self does the right thing?
•DON’T USE TO-DO LISTS
Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”
•FOCUS ONLY ON ONE THING
Know your most important task and work on it without interruptions.
•FOCUS ON MINUTES, NOT HOURS
Keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute. You must master your minutes to master your life.
•TOUCH THINGS ONLY ONCE
Deal with it right then and there
•THEME DAYS OF THE WEEK
Batch your work to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness. Monday’s for team building, Friday for financials, etc.
•DELEGATE ALMOST EVERYTHING
Successful people don’t have control issues, aren’t micro-managers . Don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead ask, “How can this task get done?”
•FOLLOW THE 80/20 RULE
80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities
•SAY “NO” TO ALMOST EVERYTHING
You only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily.
•TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
These secrets just might help you to get more done in less time, and help you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.
Off and on over the last few weeks I've been reviewing my skills, passions and personality via online testing and reading. I have been doing more of the quick & easy self reviews, because that is what my current "burning the candles at both ends" time allows for.
When it comes to work, there is a fine line where we want to be using our gifts--those things that are natural for us and to be growing--being challenged by learning new tasks, solving problems, education, etc. Doing what we enjoy is important. Using our gifts and passions makes our work seem like not work. Our career choice impacts our life, our quality of sleep, how motivated we are and maintain, it impacts our relationships, our eating habits, our spending habits. Our career impacts a large part of our life because we spend a large portion of our life doing our jobs. Although many have, I'm not saying "go quit your job today if you aren't satisfied with what you are doing". However it is wise to coach a person to find a fulfilling career by taking daily steps to discover what that job is, where they can find it and what they need to do in order to obtain the job. If you dread going to work, if your work is draining you on a consistent basis--I would say it's clear and obvious you aren't using your skills and passions or you haven't found the correct company to work at.
Being self employed/a business owner, 'm taking these type of test and reading up on me, simply for education and for awareness. For example, I learned that those who battle ADHD struggle settling down, are diagnosed as "hyper", are twice as likely to be a smoker. For more common symptoms of ADHD CLICK HERE.
1. PERSONALITY TEST: this free personality test will help you discover who you are and your strengths. Learn how you score on the five most important personality traits. After the free report, you can even upgrade to an extended report if you like. Lastly, along with the personality test, on the right hand side you can see other test, such as IQ, DISC personality test that may help. Get started HERE
2. CAREER TEST: This career test will give you percentages of area interest. Took 2-3 minutes to complete. My results were: 83% business and finance, 50% education--high here because I like to mentor others--share my knowledge, 42% communications, 42% social science. Take your test HERE
3. WHO AM I MEANT TO BE: this test will allow you figure out what really defines you. Based on personality science, this test uses seven "striving styles," modes of thought and behavior that direct us to seek satisfaction in different ways. Although everybody is wired with all seven styles, most people have one that dominates. My results said I like to be in control, I like to help people, be spontaneous and recognized. Take your quiz: HERE
4. CAREER APTITUDE TEST: This quiz helps you determine the best career for you based on your unique skills and interests. Adjust your skills and receive a list of career suggestions based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics HERE
5. WORK VALUES TEST: simple, but a longer, more in-depth look at nine career values. On this test you pick based on best fit with your ideal job or you as a person. Some are difficult--you have to pick one. My results showed that I like overwelmy like to serve people or be didicated to a cause. Your choices will show what makes you happy or unhappy in your work and career. The test does require you to fill out some contact and personal information in order to see your results. Take your test HERE
This test answers questions such as:
Because the test results only offer overviews of your career values you may also want to consider taking a paid career test such as one HERE
If you are looking for more, simple Google phrases like: free career test, career assessment, free personality test, DISC personality test, Myers-Briggs test.
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Spring has faded into summer at the Treehouse Inn and one word defined the season…LANDSCAPING! Edging, digging, pulling, planting, spraying, mulching, watering, weeding, bending, scratching, $pending, free cycling, potting, harvesting…All of this leading to beautifying both our yard and souls.
As God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and tend the garden, our little family tends to our tiny lot in the hills of West Dundee, as if it is a divine appointment. Nature has a way of bringing me back to the awe of our Creator. It restores my perspective when life weighs me down and I try to control my world. Nothing can snap me back to surrender quicker than the wonder of creation, with the wind rustling the leaves, the birds chattering in the trees, and the countless botanical beauties.
On a recent weekend, during one of our many mini projects, Miley and Elise, our designer mutts, supervised my husband Chris, our son Luke and I pulling weeds in a garden bed. Luke had beautifully edged the area with a narrow shovel, sparing Chris’ strong but aging back, weeks earlier. Distracted by other priorities, some grass within the bed had remained untouched, although facing a sure defeat at the hand of a garden trowel. Today was the day. As Chris laid out on the grass beside me, (he has the most unusual weeding posture), I kneeled, both with gloved hands, digging and pulling, when the irony of the situation tugged on my mind. Just three inches away, lay a lush, green lawn. To Chris’ credit, Scott’s Lawn Care would boast in their glossy ads about this lawn. Yet, there we were, on the ground, pulling out grass that had grown in the wrong place. And it wasn’t just grass. There were maple trees from last year’s helicopter attacks and a lovely chartreuse vine trying to choke out the spirea whose blooms are just beginning to fade.
I got to thinking about the planting and cultivating of seeds in my life. There are so many ‘seeds’ scattered over us throughout our lives. The sowers are our parents, extended families, teachers, friends, mentors, bosses, co-workers….and that is just scratching the surface when you consider Hollywood, pop culture, social media, the internet, the newsstand and the Church. Our soil, A.K.A. our souls, are overwhelmed.
Without proper tending, what takes root? Seeds of fear, doubt or despair? Or seeds of joy, peace, and love?
How does my garden grow? Measuring growth by comparison or cutting down others to increasing feeling of worth? Or expressing my unique God given gifts and purpose?
I have to be intentional about what I allow to take root. What grows and fruits in me is not an accident. It is by design, and if I am listening to the still whisper, it is God’s design.
What does that look like in my everyday life? How do I cultivate good seeds, tend my garden, dig out the roots and prune the good things?
Stay tuned, as I dig into this more….
Facebook: Jennifer Limbach Chaffin
“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.” Genesis 50:20
This past St Patrick's Day, just over two weeks ago now, I spent some time reading about Saint Patrick. No one ever taught me who he was, or why he's so honored with a very popular holiday. Based on what I learned about Saint Patrick was he was Irish, he must have wore green and he liked to drink beer. The picture that comes to mind is the Notre Dame leprechaun with a pitcher of green beer in his hand.
I wonder what the percentage of just Americans know about Saint Patrick? Before March 17, 2017 anyone could have known more than me, I suppose. Now I'm more educated and I'm excited to share a little glimpse of the legacy of Saint Patrick.
At just 16 yrs. of age, Saint. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and taken from his British homeland to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. He worked in the fields as a shepherd for 6 years under terribly harsh conditions, until God miraculously provided a way of escape for him to flee. As difficult as that time must have been, it was during those lonely years of enslavement, where he faced hunger, freezing temperatures, and pain, that he met with God, and found deep closeness in His Presence through prayer and meditation. What was intended for evil, God used for good!
After months back at home, recuperating and seeking direction for his future plans, Saint. Patrick felt strongly led to go back to Ireland. He knew God had brought him there for a purpose and he was burdened to share Christ with a lost nation.
History tells us that Saint Patrick followed his strong feelings to return to Ireland. And thankfully so! Saint Patrick shared the Gospel to many in Ireland and history tells us thousands were saved. Revival broke out among this pagan people, lives were changed, as many came to know Christ as Lord and Savior. But before that happened---St Patrick was a slave, he worked in the fields for 6 years under harsh conditions. What was intended for evil, God used for good!
Can we see ourselves like Saint Patrick? Maybe your struggle is today, or maybe its been a few days now, similar to Saint Patricks. Suffering isn't resistant to Christians and nor do we have to be a slave working under harsh conditions in order to be suffering. Suffering looks different to each of us. It could be overloaded with stress from your job, your struggle to help a depressed spouse, a child continues to lie and steal in order to feed an addiction, there is no shortage of what ones suffering could be. Pain is pain. One pain is no greater or no less than another. If you lost your job--its ok to grieve and admit you are suffering. If you are disconnected from a loved one due to disagreement--its ok to grieve and admit you are suffering. Both of these situations can be painful, one is not worse or greater than the other. Pain is pain. Though today may be pain, one day you will be able to look back and see what was intended for evil, God used for good. Can you name some of those situations that have happened? They are always a good reminder that God has us where we are temporarily for a reason and He brings us through for a reason.
Though God is not the author of evil in our world, and though often He does choose to shelter and protect us from the evil attacks of the enemy on our lives, sometimes He takes us straight through dark seasons. But it’s never to leave us there without a purpose. He will always have purpose and hope through what we may experience, however difficult it may be. He will always be faithful to bring greater good. Both the lives of Saint Patrick and Joseph in the Bible remind us of this truth. Sold into slavery, held captive, and imprisoned, yet set free for the “saving of many lives.” What was intended for evil, God will use for good!
If you're an adult, chances are you have many priorities and it’s safe to say you stay busy. Balancing work, family, friends and “me” time can be challenging, and it can be really difficult to find a happy medium.
As a result of adulthood, a majority of us fall into a routine that prioritizes our career goals, and we end up sweeping our other hopes and dreams under the rug to be dealt with in our "spare" time. That poses one big problem – “spare time” is hard to come by. So what do we do?
It’s about actively seeking out balance. Balance is so important, regardless of your professional or personal situation. The stress that comes from having a full schedule of activities and responsibilities that don’t align with your passions can wear even the strongest person down. If I'm doing something I'm passionate about, I can do it for long periods of time. I love Uber driving and I have driven close to 300 miles and 12 hours before in a day; heading home sleepy because it's 3:30am--but not mentally tired. Take me shopping at IKEA and I'm ready to go home within minutes--tired, feet hurt, get me away from this! LOL
Do you find yourself spending too much time on tasks you don’t love? It may be time to rethink your priorities and start balancing your life approach. It may not be perfect, but finding the almost perfect work-life balance will allow you to gain peace and less stresses in your life. In the past I failed at this by saying "yes" to just about anything asked of me, and volunteering for several things. At one point my schedule was so packed of things to do--I didn't have 20 minutes to cut my lawn. I was working 6 days a week, coaching baseball, volunteering in two areas at church, watching my son play baseball or practice 6 days a week. I hired out that lawn cutting job and my inlaws cut it for me while I stayed on the go-go-go. Eventually my breakdown came.
Just doing these four simple things will help free up the time you need to pursue your passions and do the things that make you happy:
1. Define what's important. What values are most important to you? Maybe you aren't making the connection "balance to value", but this is the most important step! Once you know your values, it's easier to determine priorities, it's easier to know what to say yes and no to. Knowing your values will make it easy to determine priorities for your time, money and energy.
2. Set boundaries. Boundaries are to protect ourselves from getting hurt, overwhelmed, over-committed, etc. I've had to set boundaries because I was doing more for those outside my home than I was for those inside my home. I also was there for others, but didn't have time for Chris. I've come to know the truth: I am an important responsibility. I need to say no to good things so that I can say yes to the best things. With boundaries will come balance--saying no to things that don't fit with your values and top priorities will lesson frustration, bring more peace, free up more time and freedom.
3. Say 'no'. If you are like me, saying no feels hard. When I started saying it, I had thoughts of "I hope they aren't upset, will they still be a client...Saying no gets easier the more you say it. Saying 'no' is saying yes to something else, that something else that aligns with your values. You only have so much time in a day, week, life.
4. Arrange your actions with your values. Our stress and imbalances are mostly caused by spending energy on things that aren't in line with our values. Once you get good at or used to setting strong boundaries, saying "no" to things that don't align with your priorities---is putting your needs first. When you do this, you'll feel fulfillment and balance.
Evaluating these four four factors will help refocus and bring contentment. Finding your balance can make normal days feel great and stressful times manageable.
Have you set any goals for 2017 yet? If not, there is still plenty of time! It's never too late for goal setting, I'd argue. This year I have set goals in the areas of: spiritual, finance, family, social, physical, and mental.
As I shared in an earlier post, setting and remaining focused on goals in something I have not been good at, or made a priority. I have gone with the flow, aiming at nothing, no real purposeful living. And research shows that is 97% of Americans. This year I am hoping to join the 3% of focused, intentional, purposeful living.
Here are a few nuggets on doing this:
•Specific: What is the specific goal you’re trying to accomplish? Be specific! Example: "I want to pay off $10,000 in debt" is better than "I want to pay on some debt".
•Measurable: measure your success along the way. Am I paying enough each day•week•month towards debt? Where else can I save? What adjustments, if any, are needed?
•Action steps: what small steps are needed to help me achieve the goal? Whatever our big goals are--there may need to be daily actions towards hitting the goal---so new habits are being formed. Sharing this nugget from a recent Davy Ramsey episode: If you want to pay off X-amount of dollars of debt this year, daily steps: what can I sell? What can I put on eBay, Craigslist, garage sale sites that will generate income to go towards debt? If my goal is to pay off $10,000 in debt, that's $27.40 a day. If I have $27.40 to spend in my bank account today--pay on something! Then tomorrow do it again!
•Support: who do I need to help me with this goal?
A manager, co-workers, friends, or family. Make sure you are aware help is needed, then contact them. When contacting them: share your goal and then ask them for help.
•Timing: some goals are short term, while others are long term. Long term goal: I want to lose 50 pounds this year. Short term: I want to loose 5 pounds by the Super Bowl.
•Having a life of consistency is difficult until the new habits are formed (3 weeks+).
•Hitting goals takes a plan and strict discipline. By the way, though it's good for us, most people don't like discipline. I know I don't. But God disciplines us and He is good, so discipline isn't bad. An example of having a plan and strict discipline: if my goal of 2017 is to do prayer and healthy reading before I touche my phone or computer, I have to take steps to help me be successful. I learned if I don't pray and read before I touch my phone or computer--it won't get done. I see things I need to do for work, people I need to call, now I'm responding to text messages. My wife is reminding me of this evenings gathering, so I tell myself, "I better get moving". So maybe I purchase an alarm clock so my phone isn't the alarm and thus an easy temptation for me. I put my phone and computer away at night and mentally I tell myself: "God first or he doesn't even come in last--He doesn't even get acknowledged period". I know that if I don't pray and read first--it won't get done.
•Most people float through life, instead of creating their life. Most people don't have goals and remain focused on them (97%). The ninety-seven-percent do what they "have to do"--work, school, react and rarely commit, watch tv, go to bed. i want more!
•Goals are to be where we see them constantly. This serves as accountability and a reminder of what's important to ourselves and who we want to become.
•If we acknowledge we have failed on a goal, begin the next day. Example: I failed to read and pray today. We aren't perfect, give ourselves grace and get back on the road tomorrow.
•Use phone alerts & sticky notes to remind ourselves of goals & steps to hit goals. Example: daily phone alert--can I pay $27.40 towards debt today? Sticky note: list something for sale before dinner today.
•Reward yourself briefly, then get back at the goal. An absolute strict year isn't going to be rewarding to our souls and likely won't last. Two ways of setting your reward: #1 a time line--I will abstain from dining out & shopping for 60 days, then I will reward myself with a girls day out. #2 a focused goal--I will pay off $5000 in debt before I book my next vacation.
•Do away with distractions. Goals and being focused on them will help us become more purposeful. Yes, we still need a life, yes we still need relationships, church attendance, to be serving, a day of rest, etc. However, it's also ok to say "no" to things that may keep us or distract us. You want that $27.40 to go towards debt today--tell the coworker no to lunch.
•Goals take sacrifice. They may cost money, time, effort, sleep, energy, relationships. Depending on what your goals are, they could cost you each of those things. Goals aren't easy, if they were easy--more than 3% of America would do them. Anything worth having is hard work.
"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." -Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks for reading!
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.