We are family…

Hopefully there are members of your family that you love.  Perhaps you have a close sibling or a cousin you keep in contact with.  You look forward to talking with them and hanging out if you’re both in the same area.  But there’s also that relative that no one likes to talk about.  When the family gets together, nothing will be good enough.  Something could be better, changed, or not there at all.

You know who I’m talking about: the senile grandpa, the cranky aunt, or fill in your own relative here.  And yet we tolerate them and try to make the best of it because, hey, they’re family, right?  So, why can’t we do that with the church?

In the book John, he refers to us as “children of God.”  Since we’re all  children of the same Father, that’s makes us family.  Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 12 about the church being one body in Christ.  I think there are few lessons the church could learn from the family.

  1. In the family, not everyone gets what they want.  At some point, two sides will collide, and when that happens, both sides can’t get what they want.  It’s an impossibility.  If Jimmy wants to go to Applebee’s for dinner and Sally wants to go to HuHot, one of them will get what they want, and the other won’t (unless Mom wants to go to Chipotle, in which case they both lose).  The point is, we have to compromise with each other to make things work.
  2. You can’t quit your family.  While there are times we have those monumental fights with our family and don’t talk to each other for long stretches, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still family.  I can’t be un-born; my parents will always be my parents and my siblings will always be my siblings.  I don’t get the convenience of walking away; it’s in my best interest to work it out.
  3. The “love them even if you don’t like them” rule applies here.  Did you ever remember hearing that from your mom or a teacher growing up?  The problem as a kid was, no one explained what that was supposed to mean.  Do I just say, “I love you, but I don’t like you”, or did you just try to fill in a check box called “Love” in your head?  Now that I’m older, I have this (honestly kind of scary) thought on how it works.  It’s like love in a marriage: you have to put the other person’s needs ahead of yours.  So we have to do music I don’t like on Sunday because it meets someone else’s needs? Yep!

And this is where the rubber really meets the road.  “They will know we are Christians by our love” the hymn says.  But what does it look like if we can’t even live that out to each other.  Anyone can take care of and live with someone they like.  It’s how you interact with those that get under your skin that shows a deeper level of who you are.

As members of a church (and the Church), are we ready to put our needs behind us and instead care for those around us?  Can we stop nagging and arguing, put aside our differences, and be part of a community that truly demonstrates what love is?  Or are we going to be just like every other family that starts Thanksgiving dinner with a prayer and ends it with shouting matches and slammed doors?

Two Cool Websites

It’s been a crazy week, and as I continue an attempt to crank out a post a week (I think I’ve already missed one or two) I’ve got a few thoughts just sitting and rolling around in my head. None of them are really ready to hit the digital page yet, and it’s Saturday. Which means I’ve run out of time.

So I decided this week to just let you know about two websites I enjoy that have in big or small ways, changed my life. First up?

1. Lifehacker – I can’t remember how I originally found this site. It may have been while searching for a guide on how to build your own DVR. Regardless, I was sucked in quickly. Lifehacker shares tips and tricks for being more productive and finding some of the coolest websites and software out there. But where Lifehacker really changed my life was by introducing me to “Getting Things Done” by David Allen or the GTD philosophy.

I’ve spent a good amount of my life a disorganized mess. And I probably still am a good amount of the time. But I never really understood or appreciated the benefits of cleanliness and organization before I found Lifehacker. Now a clean desk actually makes me feel relaxed, and I find a geeky pleasure out of emptying my email inbox.

2. Nerd Fitness – A little over a year ago, a friend and I discussed getting together to work out a little. It sounded like it might not be too bad. I’ve always been a scrawny guy who’d love to put on some muscle. And right around that time, another of my favorite sites The Art of Manliness linked an article from Steve Kamb from nerdfitness.com. I checked out his site, and was blown away.

Here’s a guy who loves RPGs, video games, and all that is geeky in life, yet understands the importance of being in shape and carving out time to work out. Though I’m not yet where I’d like to be in terms of workouts and body shape, this site continues to give me motivation to keep trying different things, and does it in a way that’s clever, funny, and speaks the geek language. A year ago, I’d never have considered running on a regular basis. But recently I’ve spent three mornings a week on the elliptical machine. If you’re a video gamer who thinks “I could never work out and get fit”, check out Nerd Fitness. It might change your life too.

So those are two sites I’ve really enjoyed and have made an impact for me. What sites have changed or impacted your life in some way?

Are you a runner?

I’ve been working my way through a Couch to 5k program his year.  It’s been a challenge in many ways, but it has also been rewarding in others. Just last week, I jogged for 20 minutes straight.  I never thought I’d do that.

But I’m still not sure if it’s me.  A little over a week ago, I was talking with a friend about it, and she asked, “So are you a runner?” The thing is, I have no idea.

If being a runner is merely defined as someone who runs, then I’m guilty as charged.  I spend 3 mornings a week on a treadmill.  But I feel like taking on a label implies a desire. And I don’t necessarily think I have that kind of drive.

I want to complete the program. I’d love to run a 5k for that sense of accomplishment and ability to say I’ve done it. But beyond that?  I don’t feel consumed by this burning desire to run.

Maybe by the time I finish the program that will change.  Perhaps I will be transformed.  But if not, I won’t lose sleep over it. I’ll just continue on my search to find a way to stay fit and have fun doing it.

How do you stay fit?  Do you enjoy it?

Getting older again

Aging is, apparently, a big deal.  Not that it isn’t. It was my birthday this week, which got me thinking about aging, and the stereotype that it stinks.

Perhaps I’m still too young to appreciate aging.  I’m working through a Couch to 5K, my only child is two, I haven’t hit thirty yet, and I still get excited for my birthday because it means I get gifts.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so excited about gifts, but why not?

Is there something extremely magical about your birthday?  I mean, it’s a great day to celebrate being alive, but without the gifts and the cake and the smiles and the fun, what’s the point?  That’s just another day.  News Flash: I am older today than I was yesterday, and so are you.  The world has not ended in that time.  Though it might tomorrow; you never know.

People who hate birthdays often complain about getting older, and how much of a drag that is.  There’s odd pains, and gray hairs, and you can’t move as fast as you used to.  That’s forgetting the fact that age has allowed numerous experiences, some of which I’m sure that person quite enjoyed.  Or the fact that, at the end of the day, they’re still alive.

So don’t be that guy.  Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal.  We’d all rather celebrate your life with you, give you a slap on the back, maybe a quick jab in the ribs about how old you are, and have a good time.

Now, where’s the cake?

No Rest for the Weary

It’s unfortunate that schedules and circumstances don’t fall right in line with life transformation.

I’ve been working on a few projects this year in an attempt to become a better me, reorganizing my priorities and using my time more wisely.  I’m trying to work out and blog more, among other things.

I’ve tried to set up a regular schedule: run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, spend time drafting blog posts.  I haven’t followed that schedule since, well, ever.  This week was particularly bad.

We were hit by what I called “Snowmageddon 2011” earlier this week in the Midwest.  Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning and evening all involved the driveway and sidewalk needing to be cleared. Combine that with the fact that my snowblower is still in need of repairs and my mornings were shot for most of the week.  So was my back.

I’m hoping that next week, I might have a chance at a normal week. But then again what’s that?  I think the lesson to be learned here is that the path to self-improvement and discipline means sticking to the plan even when the schedule gets a little off.  Either that or snow stinks.  Take your pick.

Priorities

Sometimes, math hurts. For example, a little over a week ago, I loaded up a video game, and my save game file told me how much time I’d invested in that game. Then, I compared that number to the amount of time I’d actually owned said game. And I compared to the time I’d recently invested in actual responsibilities.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’ve been here before. As much as I love a good video game, if I get too caught up in one, it’ll eat my life. I hope that my wife would tell you that I’ve improved in this area. The days of World of Warcraft are (thankfully) behind me.

But media and video games in particular seem to be one of those things I have a hard time growing out of. That’s not to say that video games are only for children, but I would say playing them overly much is. When it comes right down to it, it’s not so much a question of whether I should play a video game in my free time, but whether I’ve done everything else I could or should be doing, and if I truly need that sort of down time. It would be nice to sit down to play a game knowing that I’m truly in a good position to do so.

Will I change? That’s the question I end up asking myself. If I’ve been here before, will I inevitably be here again? Hopefully, asking the question is part of the answer.

What about you? Is there something that you need to move down the priority ladder?