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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Who's Getting Your Time and Why They Need It in 2016

A young boy was waiting at the door when his weary father came home. "Dad," he said, "how much do you make an hour?" "That's none of your business, son," the father responded obviously irritated.

"But dad," the son replied, "I really need to know, really!"

"Okay, I make about $30 an hour. Are you happy? You just wanted to know so you could go and buy some toy or video game. So go to your room and think about how selfish you are."

The boy leaves, his shoulders slouched, his head down. Before too long the father began to feel a little guilty about his sharp reply so he headed up to the boy's room with a ten-dollar bill in his hand.  "Son, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have responded the way I did. Here's the ten dollars."

The son's eyes lit up and he said excitedly, "Thanks, Dad!"  He then proceeded to pull a wad of bills from under his pillow and added the ten dollars to it. Then he said, "Dad, now I have $30. Can I buy an hour of your time?"

Sometimes those close to us are longing for the same thing. Just an hour or so of our precious, focused, non-distracted time. Yes, we've perhaps been around our kids but have we been with them?

We get busy, distracted, focused on other things and maybe other people. But we cannot continue to give them our leftovers.

Culture will only get more complicated and faster this year. We can't wait for it to change. We must change. The time we have with those we love can end in a moment or at least feel like one. The country western song says it so well, You're Gonna Miss This. Yes, someday soon we're going to miss those little bodies running around that we would love to slow down, those hugs we get when we come home yet wish for some quiet and the conversations we might wish would end sooner.

So give the people you love your focused time now. And give less to those who are merely takers and aren't a part of your most important connections. Embrace your moments for what they are not for what you wish they would be. And make it rich time as well as extended time. Most children and teens need both quantity and quality.

Who needs your time and might want to buy an hour of it?  Give it to them soon - for free!

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

What About The Night(s) After Christmas?

It's always amazing, isn't it, how long we anticipate the arrival of Christmas Day and yet how quickly it's here and gone. The gifts have been opened, the relatives are back home and the lights and decoration seem to have lost their luster. We're now ready for it all to be put away. Even some post-Christmas shopping isn't quite as fun or exciting.

Maybe that's why we try to crank ourselves up again for New Year's with all of its hopefulness, optimism and accompanying celebration.

But I wonder if we don't give what took place during the Christmas season enough credit and too easily lay aside its challenges, inspiration and impetus for real change and new direction. Rather than hope that some less than helpful New Year's resolutions will turn our lives around, we could still consider some of the good things that remain from Christmas.

For example, don't forget the family times. Hopefully this season you slowed down here and there, took a moment or two, even part of a day, to just enjoy each other without a clock, agenda, deadline or trip in the car. You laughed, told stories and played. Why can't there be more of that the rest of the year? There can. Figure out one or two ways you can allow that kind of time back into your home.

Or, embrace more of the important things all year:  Jesus, salvation, loving others, giving to those with needs and hope. So often these profound, life-changing, long-lasting truths and concepts get lost in our penchant for hurrying and accomplishing. We may care about our faith but so often we don't practically live it. What if this year we all were much more intentional about the things that mattered most, like those we were reminded of and even did again this year?

And don't lose the power of a gift. No, I'm not talking about going into debt for a bunch of things that will be forgotten or put away within days or weeks or gifts given just because that's what everyone does in the family and they're expected.

No, remember more what you felt when you received that unexpected or handmade or especially meaningful gift that clearly had a message of love and care behind it. We can give those gifts the rest of the year too. They may not even be wrapped up but they come in the form of a kind word, a thank you, a gesture that says I'm still thinking about you. They can be tangible too like a note, flower or some other especially loved item that says to someone that they still matter to you.

While the night before Christmas almost always exudes anticipation and delight, the nights (and days) after will tell us if Christmas was really the time of peace and joy it was intended to be. Let your Christmas last this year. It's really up to you.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Three Things Not To Skip This Christmas At Your House

I'll bet there are a few things you might like to leave out of your holidays this season though that may not be possible: your weird Uncle Mel's sense of humor, grandma's fruitcake, the credit card bill coming in January or figuring out whose house you'll be at and when.

And of course there are the things most families never want to lose even though they may at some point: unique traditions, opening gifts together, putting up decorations (okay most guys are thinking differently here) and lots of food.

But there are a few important elements that can get lost if we're not careful. They're not terribly involved, don't require much expense and families are usually surprised at the potential reactions they get from family members. However, the busyness of the season that we often let steal our time can keep these things as a footnote at best if present at all.

The first?  Don't skip the real Christmas story. You know the one about Jesus for whom the holiday is named. Telling it doesn't require a boring reading, however. You can act it out, have a fun discussion sometime after one of your services or read it in a new version. Every idea obviously is dependent on the ages of the children involved.

But don't think that just because it was covered in church that you've done enough. Often the church presentations get lost too in the bigness, tradition and excitement of the event. You might consider just reviewing it with each child as you tuck them in one night.

Second? Don't skip serving someone else. If Christmas is about gifts then it makes sense to bless someone else outside of our family who might not have much to get or give. Find a family or organization and build a relationship with them that you cultivate all year with the holidays just being the culmination of the past year of helping them.

So often our kids think Christmas is ultimately about them. Why?  Because we teach them that when we make gift getting the focus. Let your kids be a part of selecting who you'll help and serve and if they're old enough do some of the leg work. It will be fun and give Christmas a whole new perspective.

Finally, don't skip the thank you's.  Of course thank God that you made it together through another year. Perhaps you even went through some big challenges or losses. Even so, thank Him for walking you through and being there when you needed Him.

Also, thank the people you love and those who've blessed you in some way. They don't each need a gift other than your words of appreciation. There are scores of people in your world who would love to simply know what they did for you mattered and was noticed.

Say it, write a note, take someone out for a cup of coffee. Say thanks and "I love you" to those you are closest too. Whatever you do, don't assume that you've said it enough. You haven't most likely.

So have a great Christmas, but make it extra special by adding some things this year that might change everything and everyone - including you! Merry Christmas.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Five Essential Things To Ramp Up At Home Next Year

Okay so very few of us ever follows through on a New Year's resolution. But maybe if we put our minds to it we could actually make a change or two over the long haul. Let me actually suggest five areas to work on to take your home to a higher plane this year.

First, spend more time with your spouse. The number one reason couples struggle is because they don't act like friends much anymore. And remember when you were dating you had little trouble spend huge amounts of time together. While you were busy very little got in the way of your time together. That has likely changed big time. Make time again for each other.

Second, make more memories that involve your whole family. Make spending time doing fun,  unique and even giving things that you do together. We spend way too much time in the car and in the stands merely watching each other but not engaged with one another. There are lots of possibilities out there that you've never considered.

Plan some special events and try not to make them all activity or entertainment oriented.

Third, teach your kids skills they will need in the future. Do they know how to do the laundry, iron clothes, organize their lives and balance a bank account (check book for some)?  Many do not know these basics and enter marriage without these and other fundamental skills that would benefit them in major ways once they are out on their own. Add your own additional items, especially ones that you are particularly good at.

Fourth, go back and review some of your family highlights. This could be easily done by going back and looking at old photos or videos. Most of us have countless pics somewhere that we haven't seen again ever or at least for a long time. You'll have some laughs and enjoy some wonderful memories that you don't want to lose.

Finally, go serve someone else. Find a shelter, nursing home, neighbor in need or whoever where  you could serve not just once but all year long. Figure out where you could build some relationships with people you don't know but will get to know over time. Your family will never be the same and you'll add a memory and experience.

So don't make resolutions but consider starting some new ways of living that aren't that hard but will likely last you far longer than your last promise to lose weight, exercise more or save money. And the investment will even have eternal dividends. Enjoy.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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