Saturday, May 31, 2014

Resting While You Work

Sounds crazy, right? But I was able to do this just this past week!. Part of my job responsibilities for the new mission trip focus we will have in New York is scouting each aspect of the trip. That means that I visit every place we will go, take a look at our lodging and transportation solutions, and ensure that all the details are in order for the trip BEFORE we show up with students. One of the last pieces to this plan was to scout the road-trip aspect of our New York trip. I did that this past week. AND - I took my family along for the trip.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe your job doesn’t include a road trip to the Big Apple or climbing into a car for sixteen hours (one way) with your family. Or even if it did, that might not sound relaxing to you. But that’s not the point. The point is that if you have a busy schedule that, for the moment, is inescapable - you should look for ways to include your family in that work if at all possible.

I do this on occasion locally as well. If I’m going to be working in our Student Life Center, I take Carver along to help and hang out. If I’m going to be doing some yard work around the house, I want to make a way for him to be outside with me. If I’m running errands for home on a Saturday, it’s nice to have him ride along so we can talk and maybe drop by McDonald’s so he can get a cookie or two. (He’s not an ice cream fan at all).

When we spend this time together, I do my best not to take any calls. In fact, I try to use my phone for just one thing - playing and enjoying music that he likes. That is something we enjoy doing together. And being in the car or working together provides a great opportunity to multi-task with a shared joy in our lives - music.

Get creative with your time. When you feel you can’t unplug and get some good rest - see if there’s a way to merge work and play so you are getting quality time with your family while fulfilling your other responsibilities. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it’s better than none at all.

Let me know if there’s anything I can pray about for your family.

Friday, May 16, 2014

God Wants You To Rest

This is something I wrote this week for Preacher's Corner, but I thought it would be a great message to parents of high school students - especially as we near the end of the school year.

God Wants You To Rest

Have you noticed how busy we all seem to be these days? Most of the people I interact with on a regular basis are living extremely busy lives. They are always on their way to do something, coming back from doing something, or on the phone or computer scheduling a new “something” to do in the future. In fact, I can’t think of a single person in my circle of friends who I could consider to be living a life that models the rest that God outlines for us in His Word. (That broad statement includes my own disobedience in this area).

Many of the people I ‘m thinking about could be best categorized as workaholics; they have busy jobs with high demand that, on the surface, might seem to justify the constant activity that makes up their lives. Certainly such a pace must be worthy, right? I mean, come on, God wants us to take pride in and execute our work with His excellence and zeal, right? Of course He does! But doing so requires that we approach life and work with the balance He outlines in His Word. After all, when He finished creating the heavens, the planets, the stars, the earth and everything that walks, breathes, crawls, swims, flies, laughs, cries, bites, stings, and nests upon it - He took a break. He modeled rest for us right from the beginning...and not because He was tired.

So how might we add rest to schedules that are already overbooked with meeting the demands of bosses, friends, co-workers, spouses, family members, and the laundry list of other people we so greatly value in our lives? It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

First, we have to be intentional. We have to begin scheduling rest, on purpose, onto our calendars with the same, or higher, priority as the other things that dominate our time currently. If we have proven anything thus far, it’s that rest is not going to just happen for us by accident. There are WAY too many people and “opportunities” chasing and scratching for our time and attention to just leave our time to rest to chance. We have to be intentional.

Second, we have to learn to say no to things that are important in order to say yes to other things that are more important; one of those more important things is rest. There is absolutely no end to the causes that other people will allow you to care about on their behalf…things that are admirable, God-honoring and worthy of quality time being spent on them. But if your focus on those extra things takes over the time you have set aside to honor God by resting, you are stating to God that you have figured out a better plan than the one He modeled from the beginning.

Lastly, it has to be guilt-free. If rest is not a regular part of your schedule right now, practicing it might make you feel guilty at first. It might even make you feel like something is missing or that you are weak for needing good rest. Nothing could be further from the truth. A life that includes rest is balanced; it is healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually. Taking time to rest means you’re not just obeying something that God commanded, it means you are practicing something that He modeled. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

High School Missions - A New Chapter

Most of you know by now that we have completed our work in the New Orleans area. This summer we will turn our focus to New York City and the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We will be working on the Rockaway Peninsula in the New York City borough of Queens.

Robert and I visited there this week to get an idea of the work we will be doing; what we saw was something VERY familiar to us. We will be working with a group called “Friends of Rockaway” which is a companion group of Saint Bernard Project. We are familiar with their work as we have partnered with them before while working in New Orleans.

We were allowed to tour a couple of the work sites and, again, found some very familiar things happening. The homes we visited had been under about 4 feet of water and  were buzzing with volunteers working on drywall, flooring, and painting - all the things we learned to do while working in New Orleans! It seems like a great opportunity for us to use in another part of the country the skills we have developed while helping Katrina victims.

We are very excited about the work God is calling us to do in New York. Please be praying that we will find ways to honor God’s Kingdom as we serve those in need, and that we will be able to forge new relationships that will allow us to speak His message of Truth to individuals and families there.

- Michael