Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Than A Coffee Table Life

Have you ever noticed something common to many offices, funeral homes, waiting rooms and even homes?  There is often a stylish table or two stacked with books. The volumes are often beautiful, covered with striking pictures, multi-colored and likely expensive.

The problem is that most of them never get opened.  Perhaps the top one gets paged through now and then but the rest accumulate dust and are for all practical purposes useless. They sit there for years and accomplish little. And most of the books on those tables look alike even though in reality they're probably quite distinctive.

I wonder how many families have never gone or imagined life beyond the coffee table stage.  Sure, things in their home look good and there's lots to be thankful for. And everyone there may be relatively happy and feel a sense of accomplishment. But they look like and are doing what everyone else does. They are involved in all the same activities, go to the same events and strive for the same things as their friends and neighbors.

And yet how many of those families would say they intended to have a coffee table life?  Not many. But if we're going to have marriages and families that are distinctive it's going to require that we think hard and actually plan to do some things that are fundamentally different and in the long run make us feel truly alive.

The things we could actually do to be distinctive and truly enjoy life are myriad. Only the limits of our imagination and creativity limit us. And when we invite God into the equation the possibilities become endless for all practical purposes.

So where do you start?  First, look for local ways that your family can serve others.  Your church, community center and schools can be a place to begin.  Find some people in need, look for an agency that would like some volunteers, or come up with your own project that would give your family an opportunity to care for others. A warning though:  once you start you might get hooked and decide to stay involved for a long time.

Second, plan some marriage or family events that would be unique or special for you.  Climb a few mountains, go whitewater rafting, take some sort of lessons together . . . you get the idea. Take one portion of the year when your kids don't need to be in a sport or music or whatever and do something you all like. With the power of the internet these days you can write books, make photo albums, research your family and who knows what else for very little money. Make some memories that none of you will ever forget.

Third, dream together. What are the skills, talents, resources and interest your family or marriage enjoys?  How could those attributes be used to make a difference?  Children and adults both have dreamed dreams and found that they could literally start programs and even movements that others rallied to and impacted thousands. Why not you or your family?

Don't just be a book that looks like everyone else?  Stand out, take some risks, do something together that you'll never forget.  And the time to start is now.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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