White noise

Life is so full. Full of cares and concerns, responsibilities, obligations, and the like. There’s work time, play time, and down time. When I was single, I thought life was busy. When I got married it seemed even busier. Add children to the mix, and time becomes one of the most precious commodities. But no matter how busy life is, it seems like we always find time and ways to distract ourselves.

In a media-driven world it seems altogether too easy to create white noise in our day. Stopping to check ESPN scores, news updates, the social media feed, likes and shares, video games, movies, Netflix, or a quick stop on YouTube for short videos. All of these simply amount to us creating distractions for ourselves. We’re drawn to these things because they are easy and they matter very little. We can escape the weightier matters of life through these other mediums. We can “check out” for a bit. Some might view it as regrouping. After all, some of life’s responsibilities are just too heavy to carry.

I am as guilty as most when it comes to making time to escape. But my goal is to fill that time escaping in more profitable ways. I want to feed my emotional, spiritual, and physical health in that space. It’ll be hard. I’ll have to fight so many urges and temptations. But in the end, if I’m successful, it’ll be so worth it. For me it’s drawing, playing music, working out, and writing that fill me back up. But what fills me the most, is time alone with Jesus. Praying, studying, and journaling. He is our ultimate source of strength and regeneration. He is the vine that provides the necessary nutrients to our souls. There is no greater escape we could make than to escape with Jesus. Then we can return to life’s matters fully equipped with His spiritual strength to face whatever the world throws at us.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May His peace and strength grow in His children so we can face the world full of joy and courage. God bless loved ones.

Take it in

Life is good until it isn’t. A change that comes in a moment.

Hearts once leaping in exaltation now sunken in deep despair.

A smile now a lifeless expression.

Time unshaped by gratitude is lost for no one’s gain.

Unaware of how good it was, walking aimlessly.

What matters most is directly ahead, often missed for what lies beyond.

From now on it’ll be different.

The meaning of life comes more into view.

Prayers become more earnest as helplessness takes control.

A peace floods the soul like a warm embrace on a cold dark night.

How is there strength when the world is undone?

A Savior’s love overwhelms despair. Piercing the darkness, that glimmer of light.

Hope grows with each new day. I will make it after all.

From now on it’ll be different.

Time can slow to soak in each moment before they pass into memory.

Petty differences shall pass into oblivion.

Eyes look more longingly now upon those we love.

*This poem is dedicated to those who have experienced the earth-shattering moments. The sudden loss of a loved one. The diagnosis. Pain that turned everything upside down. I hope you too have experienced that amazing peace that our loving God provides, especially in the hardest moments. If not, that is my prayer for you. You are loved more than you know. This is a celebration of that love that has rescued so many from the depths. Peace in Christ loved ones.

Wasted Earnings

“You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”

Haggai 1:6 ESV

Occasionally I take time to drink in the measure of my life by evaluating how I spend my days. I have a wife, two little girls, a Golden Retriever, a career, and a separate business. Saying I am busy is a drastic understatement. But busyness does not equate to effectiveness.

I sat down to write this following some devotional time with my girls. No super deep theological discussions came out of it. I had to ask one of my girls to come sit down multiple times. But we watched a short video and followed it up with a bible story and prayer. It was only 10 minutes of my day, but it could have eternal value. Most of the rest of the day could consist of cleaning up after two girls and two dogs (I’m pet sitting a second Golden retriever). Sometimes life feels like survival mode. Sometimes the end of the day comes with little recollection of what I actually accomplished that day. But it’s up to each of us to take control of how we spend our time.

We all have responsibilities. We all come across uncontrollable circumstances that demand our attention. But we all have the ability to determine our mindset and purpose. Those two things thread through everything we do. For example, I get to choose to be thankful for every moment with my children. That’s the mindset. And I can choose to look for teaching moments, both in the ways I behave throughout the day and how they behave. Dozens of ‘teaching moments’ arise every day with kids, especially little ones. Many of those moments are repeats from the day before, or even from earlier that day. If that’s my purpose, and my mindset is thankfulness, then my day will never be a waste. That’s only one example but it can be applied to anything from our marriage to our career.

We don’t have a lot of time in this life to make an eternal mark. Let’s break it down this way. If we sleep 6-8 hours for 365 days a year then that’s 2190 to 2920 hours a year that we aren’t making a difference. Live for 60 years, then that’s 5475 to 7300 days worth of sleep. That’s equals 15-20 years we spend asleep. If you sleep 8 hours a day you are asleep for a third of your life. As a kid, 60 years seemed like an eternity. Now, at 36, I’m over half way there and it has seemed like a flash.

So much of my life has been wasted. I know that now. Not because of sleep. Sleep is never a waste, even though I’ve kind of lived that way (I don’t sleep a lot). What I am talking about is all the time I’ve spent playing video games, partying and drinking in my youth, vegging out in front of the television, going over stats on ESPN, and fussing and fretting over so many things. I can’t even calculate the time lost. I’m glad because it would probably depress me.

The passage in Haggai is a stark reminder of how many people live their lives. A lot of what we do in life goes into a bag with holes in it. We sit in our beds at the end of the day and can’t think of anything done that day that pointed someone to Jesus, that served the needs of others, or that demonstrated unconditional love.

How do you determine a successful day? How much you earned? How many pleasures you satisfied? What new things you accumulated? Unfortunately, that’s how much of the world measures success. But that’s not God’s measure of successful living. That’s measured by the lives we impact on a spiritual and eternal scale. And that can best be done by the example we are showing with our lives.

We are going to be asleep for a quarter to a third of our lives. Let’s not waste the rest on our selfish desires. Instead, let’s spend that time loving well, both God and our neighbor.

Peace brothers and sisters

Time Slaves

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if time was not a part of your daily life? I’m not talking about time in a broad manner as in we all have certain amounts of years to our lives, but in a specific sense like the time of day. How much of your life would change if you never knew the time? Appointments? Work? Class? Family life? Trips? Meetings? I could probably list a lot more but I think that’ll do. 
People’s obsession with time is demonstrated for anyone who looks back through the lens of history. The idea of time pieces has been around for a long time but an accurate clock has only existed for less than 700 years. Thousands of years ago sundials and water clocks dominated as the source of telling time. However, these were not accurate and relied so much on the sun shining and the source of water being controlled. Fast forward to the 14th century and the foundations of the modern clock are born and we’ve never looked back since. 

The question that comes to my mind is: why? Why are we drawn so much to time? Why do we feel life needs to be so…calculated? What would happen if you hid every form of time piece in your possession? Would your life spiral out of control? (That may be a bit of exaggeration) 

I am a high school teacher. My entire work day is built on a schedule that would not function without the knowledge of time. It makes you wonder how education ever worked without bell schedules…

It may sound odd coming from a teacher, but bells and schedules drive me crazy. I don’t believe that society was ever meant to be so regimented. So much creativity and experiences are starved by such a system. Really, that system is no more than 150 years old. It all originated out of the industrial revolution era in Europe and the United States. Even though it’s so young, most nations around the world have adopted methods of structuring their days. Think about all the phrases: happy hour, nine to five job, 40 hour work weeks, over time, bed time, dinner time, etc. Alarm clocks ringing to wake up for another time managed day. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there have been efficiencies added due to time keeping. On the contrary, I also believe many have become slaves to the same efficiency. What sparked all of this dialogue was an article I recently read about the “present clock.” Have you heard of it? It was designed by Scott Thrift. The clock actually contains no numbers and takes one full year to make a full revolution.

Imagine the only sense of time that you have is of your year passing by rather than the minutes and seconds. What’s the advantage to that? Maybe a life lived in light of the big picture rather than by a schedule consumed with milking every tick of the clock out of a day. Maybe it would help to keep our eyes locked on the yearly goals rather than on the next meeting or deadline. In my opinion, it would lead to a less “productive” life but it would lead to a fuller life. Here’s an example that came to my mind: I would be more focused on pouring into another year of my daughters’ lives before that year is up rather than on bed times and super structured days. 

I applaud Mr. Thrift. While I would agree that structure is not all together bad and time Management has its advantages, they can also drown the very life out of us when we allow them to dominate every move. Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of every opportunity and Psalm 90:12 says that we need to be taught to number our days. I believe the heart of both of those verses is to make the most of life not to live so much on schedules and time tables limited by set times. I believe they tell us to make the most of our relationships and serve and love in increasing measure. Our ability to do that can be very limited when we are overly aware of time. The moment humanity gained the ability to keep track of hours and minutes and seconds, it began to fill them up, a lot of which with useless things in grand scheme of things. A life too full can sometimes be very empty. Mr. Thrift’s simple invention helped me to zoom out on life so I can see it how I believe our Creator meant us to.