How Do You Spell That?

My dad made time for me.

Growing up, Dad was a busy pastor, but he made time for me.  Countless times I asked, and countless times he accepted my invitation to play in the front yard.  Just me and him.

Nothing organized.  We would grab our baseball gloves and play catch.  Or we’d toss a frisbee.  Or a football.  And I drove him nuts with numerous horrible throws because I was not incredibly athletic.  But that didn’t keep him from agreeing to play with me the next time I asked.

To be transparent, I don’t think I can remember one solitary thing we talked about from any of those times out in the front yard. Literally, not one thing.  But I remember that my Dad loved me enough to spend time with me.

As years went by, we hunted together.  It wasn’t just the trips.  It was the preparation time we spent together, too.  Time my dad invested in me.

I’m a dad now.  And sometimes dads are tired when their kids ask them to play.  Sometimes they have a lot on their mind when their kids ask them to play.  But I say “yes” to my boys now because my dad said “yes” to me, and I know the value of that time. I want them to grow up knowing that I love them like crazy, and I’m willing to prove it with my time.

Love is spelled T-I-M-E.  That’s how we let people know we love them.  Sure, we can say we spend our time at work to earn the money to provide for our family, but that’s not the kind of time they recognize as love.

So let me encourage you to say “yes” to someone today.  Say “yes” to playing catch with your son.  Say “yes” to a tea party with your daughter.  Say “yes” to a date with your spouse.  Say “yes” to dinner with friends.  Say “yes” to church with the God who wants your heart.

It’s your time that people want.  It’s your time… your valuable, precious, limited time… which when given proves you love them.  Spell it out for someone you love today!


Not Perfect, But Plodding

Yeah, I’m sure you might look at me and say that I have a long way to go to reach my ideals.  I may not always match up to everyone else’s standards of what they wish I was.  And I know for a fact that my everyday life has not quite attained the perfect status which God has already attributed to me through Jesus Christ.

But you can count on this… I’m still working at getting better.  I’ve got room to grow in every area of my life, and sometimes I may only be taking baby steps.  But they’re baby steps in the right direction.

So what if you’re not perfect yet either?  Are you headed in the right direction?  I’d rather see you do like Apple when they come out with a product that is headed in the right direction but still has some tweaking to be done on it. Keep upgrading your life.  Keep loving people… and working hard… and making the most of times with friends and family.

If every day we will make a little improvement, at the end of our lives we will be able to look back and see how far we’ve really come.

Have a great weekend!

Christmas Roadtrips

Today we will put away the Christmas decor for another fifteen weeks or so, and wrap up our new family tradition of celebrating Christmas In July.  So I’ve been reflecting on my Christmas memories as a child this morning.  Many of those revolve around road trips to visit extended family. And when I say road trip, I mean road trip.  Like 1,000-1,500 miles and 20-24 hours of drive time.

We would leave on a Sunday night after church.  We would load everything in the station wagon and hit the road.  No seatbelt laws meant we kids could sleep on the slats Dad had specially made to fit in the back of the land yacht. Luggage underneath the slats and sleeping bags on top of the slats.

Mom would drive first because she was a night owl.  She would get us to daybreak, and then Dad… having gotten some sleep while she drove… would take the helm and keep us rolling.

We stopped only to fuel up and eat.  While we rode, we played all the classic road trip games… because there were no cell phones… or on-board wifi… or iPads… or built-in video players which could play videos or your gaming system.  No, we read… and slept… and talked… and drove each other nuts.

But you know what? I never thought twice about what direction to drive… or how much money we would need to take with us… or whether gas stations were open on Sundays or not… or whether we would get where we were supposed to be going.  Mom and Dad said, “Get in the car. We’re going to see your grandparents.”  And I did.  I just got in that station wagon, and let them do all the planning and driving.  They took care of when to stop and when to go.  They determined which roads were best for us.  They made sure we had all we needed to make the trip as easy as possible.  I just got in and trusted them.

Oh, that I would always treat God the same way.  That I would simply get in the car of life which He is driving, and let Him take care of all the details.  Sometimes I do better than most.  Other times, I’m like a 6-year old trying to tell his parents what time to leave, which road to take, how fast to drive, what time to stop or go.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

In those moments, my Heavenly Father is kind and gracious enough to say from Matthew 11:30, “Keep company with Me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  In other words, “Allen, let me take care of the details… You just get in and ride along with me. I’ll get you where you need to be, when you need to be there.”

I’m glad He’s driving.  And since He is, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to climb in the back, rest, and have fun looking at the billboards and license plates we pass.

And oh yeah, just one more time this year… Merry Christmas in July!

Take Five

Have you ever stood in your closet for much longer than was necessary trying to decide what to wear? Sadly, I have. 

Have you ever fretted over a bad decision and let it ruin your day?  Sadly, I have.

Have you ever said something and the moment the words slipped through your lips you immediately wished you had never spoken them?  Sadly, I have.

Too many times I have let something minor that seemed earth-shattering and life-defining at the moment become way bigger in my mind and emotions than I should have.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says to those listening that they shouldn’t let temporary issues cloud what really matters.  In fact, He says that all our worrying cannot even add a single moment to our lives and so it is pointless to let a molehill turn into a mountain in our minds.

So here’s my recommendation for you… and me… and all the others out there who struggle to keep life in its proper perspective on occasion… Take five.  Ask yourself…

– Will this really matter five minutes from now?

– How about five hours from now?

– Will I be concerned about this five days from now?

– Will this bother me five weeks from now?

– Is anyone at all going to care that this happened five months from now?

– Will I or anyone else even remember this five years from now?

– Will this have had any significant bearing on my life five decades from now?

– And lastly, five hundred years from now, when I am long gone and I have passed on into eternity, will this choice… this instance… this incident… this action… have made any difference… made any eternal impact on mine or anyone else’s soul forever?

Most of the time, when I practice taking five, I don’t get past five hours or five days before I realize that many things I think are such a big deal at the moment are truly trivial.  In fact, I was looking at old family photos recently and things that seemed like larger than life issues then, I had completely forgotten about now…. some of those less than five years ago.

So let’s take five when we get uptight.  Let’s take five when our heart is broken.  Let’s take five when we don’t get our way.  Let’s take five and get a little perspective… which just might help turn the situation around and respond more appropriately to it.

Who’s Making Your Supper?

It’s Simple, Really

It’s a simple concept which I choose to live by.  After all, I choose to live simply.  You don’t have to wonder what I mean when I say something because I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.  There is no manipulation or hidden meaning.  I’m not passive agressive.  I just live simply.
Rule #368

Ok, so I made up the “#368.”  See?  Simple.

And when it comes down to a simple-living tip we could all use, I like #368… “If I didn’t have to do it, then I don’t get to complain.”  I’m sure someone out there will find some situation in which this doesn’t play out, but generally speaking in life, this has worked out well for me.

It’s best illustrated by who’s cooking at our house.  PR31 basically does all the cooking.  The only time anyone wants me to cook is if she is not feeling well and unable to make it to the kitchen.  Apart from that, we love eating her cooking.  She is a terrific cook!  I’d rather eat her cooking than any restaurant around.  It’s down-home cooking, too… southern goodness with a somewhat whole-food twist.

Now you would just have to know her to understand what I’m about to say… but she wants to make sure what she cooks for us is just right.  She is not okay if something gets a little overdone on an edge… She would rather re-make something than to serve her family something less than wonderful.  It’s probably what makes her cooking so delicious.

But when she is forced to serve something she is not completely pleased with, she offers an apology for the bacon being too crisp or the cookies being a little underdone in the middle (which is my favorite way anyway).  And without fail, my response to her apology is a question…

Me: Hey, did I have to make it?

PR31: Well, no, but…

Me: (interrupting her before she can finish her reply) You know the rule… If I didn’t have to make it, then I don’t get to complain.

PR31: Yeah, I hear ya, boy.
Good For Supper, Good For The Soul

I don’t just apply this principle to meals cooked by my sweetheart.  I believe it applies to other acts of kindness by others toward me.  And it doesn’t stop with those I can see with my eyes, touch with my hands and hear with my ears.  I apply it to my salvation.

I didn’t pay for my rescue from hell… I didn’t earn my adoption into God’s family… I didn’t work hard enough or long enough to get God to bless me so abundantly.  God did it for me.  So I don’t get to complain when He gives me some guidelines to live by.  And I don’t get to complain when He asks me to say something to someone in a store… or when He asks me to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone… or when He asks me to give some money which I think I’d prefer to hold onto.  I didn’t have to do salvation for myself, so I don’t get to complain when the journey doesn’t play out exactly the way I envisioned it would.

Some people can’t fathom living this way.  They want it their way, right away.  And then they want to complain if it’s not absolutely perfect.

Leadership experts say that a good leader will hand off tasks that their team can accomplish at 50%-80% of the ability of the leader who assigned it, and the leader has to be okay with that because it freed them up to tackle tasks that were more important for them to accomplish.

It’s about having an attitude of gratitude.  It’s about appreciating those who help do something for you so that you don’t have to.  So, if your kids fold the clothes and don’t get them perfectly straight or put them in the wrong drawer… Rule #368.  If your spouse cleaned the bathroom and missed a couple spots… Rule #368.  If your administrative assistant filed something in different way than you would have… Rule #368.  If the volunteer serving at your local church didn’t get the bulletins folded perfectly, but it saved you from having to do it and you were able to spend time with someone who really needed you… Rule #368.

What if we all began to live by Rule #368?  What if we complained less and appreciated more?  Hmmmm… Seems like life might run a little smoother and people would have less stress in their lives.

The call to action today is to complain less and appreciate more.  And one simple way to implement that in your life is to apply Rule #368.

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