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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Things Couples Will Wish They'd Done Before Retiring

I'll never forget a wonderful pastor who Jackie and I learned so much from. He led a vibrant congregation as a teacher and leader for many years, looking forward as he said publicly to traveling a lot more with his wife after they retired around his sixty-fifth birthday. All seemed to be working according to plan as he bid farewell to his church except for one thing.

He died within a year.

All those plans to travel, spend time with each other and enjoy life were over, at least for the two of them. Sadly, many couples also put off until later opportunities, dreams and special hopes that didn't have to wait.

Let me suggest five things to try now that you would can include now in your marriage,and family life that you'll be glad you did even if you do live long beyond your retirement plans.

Travel together. Yes, like our pastor friend, travel plans don't always happen as we get older. Of course his death was the major reason he missed out but there are other inhibitors. Less money, health and other family responsibilities are three that often keep our big plans from happening in our later years.

Save more.  We live in a spend it when you have it culture. We're all about having the new, latest thing now. But someday you're going to wish you had saved some of what you spent on long-gone thrills and new technological advances to have extra resources that you can use for those days when it's time to work less and enjoy other things more.

Have more spontaneous fun. When is the last time you and your spouse or family did something unplanned just because it made you happy?  So much of family life today is scheduled, centered around the sports, school calendar or rehearsal schedule with little time to just enjoy one another. Take regular time to merely BE, to do things that make you laugh, that have no great purpose other than to re-fill your tank and take some of the stress out of life.

Share a bigger mission or purpose together. Over the years our hearts have been turned to loving, serving and helping the Russian church. Jackie and I have traveled there together, had Russian friends in our home and shared our resources. Your purpose can be local or far away, but there is something uniting and fulfilling about a bigger goal that you and your family embrace together. Don't wait.

Get to know your adult children as adults. So often we move far away (as we did for a while) and don't have the same amount of time to spend with them. If that's the case make sure you invest in ways to  help you get near them as much as you can. The computer makes connecting easier from a distance. And when you're together, make some memories.  Of course your children and their family responsibilities will place parameters on how much time you have but don't just sit back and hope you can get together. Suggest options, take time alone with grandkids if you can and plan some special things now and then.

You see, from someone who's there right now, you're going to face a day when you'll be asking this question: Did we do the things we wanted to do in life while we could still do them?  I'm thankful that we can say we did a lot of them. Thankfully, we seem to still have time and good health to do more of them. But I'm SO glad we didn't wait.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beware the Activity Monsters

Have you seen that insurance commercial where you're supposedly watching the telecast of a professional golf tournament and the announcers are speaking softly as the player is about to strike the ball?  Then all of a sudden out of the water hazard some huge octopus-like creature springs up grabbing several of the golfers by its tentacles and throwing them all around.

I have to admit I have no clue what the producers of that commercial were smoking in their design meeting. I have no interest in buying their insurance after that ad.

However, I wonder how many parents realize they and their children may have similarly been caught by the tentacles of their monster schedule, a situation that could have been avoided with a little planning and some saying "no."

I've spoken of this before and perhaps you've tired of hearing about it from me and others that our kids are being eaten alive by activity, much of it unnecessary and driven by parents. Kids no longer just play a sport (and it's rarely one anyway). They must go to camps, play year-round, take specified lessons, travel long distances and enter multiple tournaments. And we're not talking about the Michael Phelps level athletes preparing for the Olympic Trials.

This is happening with preschoolers, elementary students and middle school students whose running from activity to activity is not only wearing them out but stealing time from their personal, spiritual and emotional well-being.

Student groups in churches are often thirsty for participation and willing servants in ministry because students are now gone to tournaments all weekend, can't attend a midweek activity because of more practices or lessons or are simply too tired to give the church some extra time.

Marriages struggle because mom and dad have little face to face, quiet time just for them anymore.  On the surface they think things are fine, but their relationship is eroding and can potentially collapse if it's not given body, soul and spirit attention.

So what's the answer?  Some will say, "Gary, don't you know that my son or daughter can't move up in their sport or skill unless they do all these extra things?"

First, limit the choices. Okay, so your Ryan is potentially the next great college basketball player.  Then let him focus on that but don't grant him access to four sports. Allyssa is a phenomenal volleyball player - then, let he focus on volleyball.

Second, don't sacrifice the most important things. If you and your children have little time to serve others and be a part of your church's ministry in some way, you're too busy. If you never  take a vacation any more and your family doesn't know what it means to be together for an hour or two and just have fun, you're too busy.  If mom and dad never have time for themselves, you're too busy!

Third, make some choices that will model the lifestyle you believe your kids should lead when they are parents.

Too many activities are not just a monster of sorts. They will mess with who you are and who you become. And that's not worth the risk. Stay away from the water hazard.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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