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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

During Recovery Lock Your Doors!

A recent news story showed how many people at shopping malls leave their car doors unlocked while they shop. In addition, many of them have valuables, previous purchases and other expensive electronics clearly visible to anyone passing by.

Obviously many individuals and families get needlessly robbed of things that are important and in some cases difficult or at least expensive to replace.  IF they were only a little more careful they would rarely get taken advantage of.

Sometimes in life, we too can leave our emotional and personal doors unlocked only to have necessary energy, strength and other resources taken from us.

One way we are vulnerable is when we don't set appropriate boundaries. Boundaries are safeguards we set up with others that we control to keep them out of our world at unnecessary or inappropriate times. For example, a person is grieving the loss of a loved one and yet they let all their friends tell them how to handle their grief or where they should emotionally be at some point.

Or someone with cancer struggling with not having their usual energy still gives in to a friend or relative's demands that they meet their needs or acclimate to their schedule in some way. As a result our ability to function well is stolen from us because we've left ourselves open to others entering our car when we should have locked it.

Another way we let people rob us is when we offer them our personhood and let what they say, do or not do make us feel less valued. We allow them to take away from our value, our being made in God's image, through their comments about what we're doing or not doing right. We succumb to their negative evaluation by believing that what they say really determines who we are and it does not.

There are five things that are always true of us in God's eyes that are worth repeating: We are loved, we are forgiven, we matter, we have purpose and we are children of God.  Any person who has chosen to join God's family can count on those no matter what anyone else says.

So, are you during your personal journey leaving yourself open to emotional robberies by others?  If so, set some boundaries and remember who you really are in God's eyes. It will change how you climb and in general how you live.  And that's worth a lot.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LIfetimes Are Often Shorter Than We Think

My friend's son died the other day from cancer. He and his sweet wife had only been married about twelve years, had three little kids and were no doubt planning a long life together. I had the privilege of officiating at their wedding and heard their sincere and passionate vows to love even in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.

I'm confident that they never planned that in less than a dozen years one of them would be gone.

They promised to love each other for a lifetime. Sadly, however, that lifetime was much shorter than they could have imagined.

So am I trying to scare us all and suggest that we live in some sort or ugly morbidity all the time?  Of course not. But I would say we don't think nearly often enough about how we use each day and the time we have with those we love.

Often we succumb to the tyranny of the urgent and a penchant for more stuff, forgetting that it could be all gone tomorrow.

So what does this mean in everyday terms?  Well first I think it requires that we don't miss opportunities to meaningfully connect with those we love. Say the words we would want said, work at doing the things that won't end up in the regret column of your life. Take a little extra time to talk to your spouse or child, play with them spontaneously and slow down.

Second, we need to hold short accounts. If we've become angry or distant from someone go make it right even if you weren't in the wrong. Say you're sorry and let them know you don't want to continue to live apart or disenchanted with each other. Forgive if need be. Forgiveness isn't about letting them off the hook. It's about letting YOU off the hook.

Third, start on your bucket list now. Yes, some things may need to wait until you have more time or money but don't put them all off until retirement or later. Enjoy accomplishing some of those things now with your spouse and/or family. Don't spend your later days, months or years wishing you had done a lot of these things.

Of course there are other activities and actions you can think of and take to make the most out of each day you have. Whatever they are, start now. You never know how much time you have.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Did We Teach ABout Easter This Year?

So the official holiday has passed for another year. Attendance at church will likely drop to more normative levels and church leaders will catch their breath from the non-stop preparations done for the huge crowds.

But it's always worth asking ourselves, "What message did we as a church or family send or learn this Easter?" Of course, our intent was likely to focus on the real story, the resurrection of Christ, but did we?

A Facebook post had a picture of their church meeting in a huge public arena and entitled their comments, "The Best Easter Service Ever." And while I wasn't there I had to wonder why it was the best in their mind - because it was big? because there were lots of people? because it perhaps outshined the talents and resources of their previous churches or experiences?

Other churches brought in special speakers. One church I know of gave people gas money if they came. Were those services better then in some way than the church whose one hundred people, up from their normal fifty, praised and thanked God too with all of their being? I would suggest they were not.

While there may be a place for "extra special" components during our celebrations I think we need to be careful that we're not teaching something we never intended, at least I hope we didn't, that somehow Easter is better if it's bigger.

The Easter story isn't about us, it's about Christ and His sacrifice. And while I'll be the first to suggest that we must tell the story well, do things with excellence and give God our very best, I don't think that requires big or spectacular or somehow outdoing the next church.

I wonder how many parents leave or prepare for our Easter services by telling the story themselves to their families? I wonder how many Easter worshipers celebrate the day just as well in a small gathering of committed believers who humbly offer their thanks and praise to God. I wonder how many of us on the Monday after are still just as excited about Easter after all the inspiration of the day is over.

I'm trying to do that. It's what I hope we'll all spend more time doing this year.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Top Ten Great Family Easter Ideas

Easter isn't just an important holiday for Christians . . . it's the ultimate one. If there was no resurrection then every Christian might as well fold up shop and look for another eternal reality.

Therefore, we dare not miss great opportunities for teaching the significance and importance of Easter to our family members. And to help I've offered ten ideas you might consider during this Easter season.

1. Watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  C.S. Lewis' famous segment of the Chronicles of Narnia has several beautiful pictures of both the death and resurrection of Christ in Aslan the lion.

2. Read the Easter story from the Bible. Luke is probably your best Gospel source.

3. Attend your Easter service but talk about what you heard, saw and experienced when you get home or over dinner at a restaurant.

4. With age-appropriateness in mind, watch The Passion of the Christ.

5. Listen to several great worship songs or hymns and discuss what they remind us of regarding Christ's sacrifice for us.  Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace and When I Survey come to mind.

6. Go serve somewhere together as a picture of Christ's coming not to get but to serve us.

7. Get up early and go to a park or other scenic area and talk about what the women and other disciples might have experienced that Easter morning.

8. Give an Easter financial or other gift to a local service agency as another example of Christ's gift for us.

9. Take communion at home with bread and your choice of juice or wine.

10.  Have a time of prayer thanking God for sending His Son to die and rise again for you.

You can probably come up with some of your own. But don't settle for mere candy and bunnies at your house. Nothing wrong with those but missing the bigger story?  That is a mistake.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

Your Presence Makes More Difference Than Your Presents

I was  recently playing Hide 'n Seek with my two-year-old grandson Liam.  I would of course go hide and the idea was for him to try and find me. However, before long he would just say, "Where are you?"  In other words he didn't want to look for me anymore and that's certainly understandable for a little guy his age.

Sadly, many children are asking the same question about one or more of their parents.  "Where are you?" And I'm confident that a lot of those parents would say, "I'm there for my kids all the time."  Or, "Hey, I give my kids quality time when I am there."

But let's think about how many parents spend time with their kids these days: driving them places, sitting in the stands watching their practice, games or other performances. We take vacations allowing their hands on their phone or video game the whole time, we even go to dinner and all watch the TV screens in the restaurant or check out our own emails much of the time.

We fill every day and every moment of our schedules and many of us wouldn't have time to do something spontaneous with our children even if we wanted to.

But are we ever just having fun together, enjoying meaningful conversations, serving others or playing?  Are we really present even when we're present?  A lot of parents are not.  And our kids have a reason to ask, Where are you?  Don't buy into the lie that says if you're around your kids you're engaged with them.

Children need us to be more than babysitters, taxi drivers and meal providers. They need us to talk to them, be with them and teach them by modeling while we're at their side. They need to do more than play on someone's team. They need play time with us! And we must start early and keep doing it until the day they leave the house for good. Sure, our methods will change but our commitment must not.

Yes, middle and high schoolers will likely try to push us away but we need to stay connected. Don't embarrass them but don't neglect. I remember that our daughter in her teen years would come in to our room and talk. Often it was late but we made the time knowing we wouldn't have it for long. We took vacations and accomplished some milestones together that they will never forget.

Take a look at your lifestyle and schedule. What opportunities to be present with your kids are you missing or could you use better?  Maximize them now. They'll be gone before you know it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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