Why my yard went from this to this…

When I was in seminary, I was fortunate enough to take all of my classes on Mondays, which allowed me to serve in a church and attend seminary both full time. As you might imagine, that also made for some very long weeks. One of my absolute favorite days of each year was the first Monday of spring where I did not have class and it was warm enough to work in the yard. I am by no means an expert gardener, but I enjoy being outside, working in the dirt, planting flowers, and watching it grow. This is done almost only for selfish reasons. Jenni likes flowers and I try to plant her favorite, but I don’t think she’d notice if I stopped planting them at all.

A few days ago I saw some pictures of the house where Jenni and I lived in Cynthiana: elmarch2elmarch
I don’t claim that it was the best looking yard in the neighborhood, but it was the most I had ever grown something on my own, there was lots of color, and I enjoyed looking at it every day when I would walk up the sidewalk to our front door.

Not long after seeing that picture, I went outside to mow the yard at our new house and snapped a picture of what those flowerbeds look like:

southgate1
Sure, it might look like the before picture of an extreme lawn makeover show…but that’s pretty much how they still look right now.

It drives me crazy. But, as with almost anything in life, it is my choice.

The truth is, the house before this one never looked as nice as I’d like. I planted a few flowers, but nothing seemed to stick. Working in the yard was just something to fit into a schedule, but not something to enjoy.

So, if I love working in the yard, why do I let it get out of hand?

Here are a few reasons:

 

These pictures do not reflect excuses. They reflect choices.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we are reminded that

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens”:

As much as I enjoy working in the yard, the amount of time that it would require to “do it right” would mean sacrificing time spent with those things that mean the most right now:

  • Hearing Crosley giggle as I chase her and fulfilling requests to read one more story.
  • Doing whatever ridiculous thing it takes to get both boys grinning at the same time and serving as the world’s lumpiest pillow as they nap.
  • Date nights with the love of my life.
  • Serving a church with some of the kindest people I have ever met.
  • And the list goes on…

 

In a social media world, we tend to feel an increasing pressure to have it all together in every aspect. We need picture perfect memories in picture perfect houses while taking picture perfect vacations while trying (and failing) to have picture perfect bodies and  on and on and on.

In the midst of that pressure, we try to do everything and in the end nothing is really done well.

calendar-overload
Churches feel this pressure. If only we add more programs, design our buildings a certain, if only, if only, if only….

Is there a need for balance? Sometimes. I would imagine 2-3 hours in the yard might make the flower beds seem a bit better. I think the neighbors would appreciate it (thankful to have very considerate neighbors who mainly ask us how the babies are doing). And I do my best to make sure that we don’t do things that harm the neighborhood.
At some point, though, we have to choose. What will you pursue the most today? If you pursue something with intensity, something else will surely fall behind. That means that the house might be a little dirtier than usual, the yard might seem unkempt, other folks might be questioning where you spend your time.

And that’s okay.

Someday I’ll have a yard with more flowers than I know what to do with and I’m sure I’ll sit there and long for the days that I have right now. I’ll miss my children and the craziness that life brings. And hopefully, I’ll have new and exciting ways to serve my place in the kingdom of God.

I love working in the yard. But right now, to do it well would mean missing out on the kind of memories that will last a lifetime.

I encourage you to examine how you are spending your time this week. What gets the most attention? What kind of things are you doing that leave you feeling burned out but in the end don’t really matter?

There is a time for everything.

That doesn’t mean that the time for everything is now. 

And that’s okay.

 

I’d love for you to learn more about what God is doing through First Baptist Church Fort Thomas. Check out our website to learn more! Click Here!

My Daddy Likes…

There are many things that I love about being a dad. Many of the things that I thought I would like turned out to be true:

Wrestling. Taking naps together. The fact that it is socially acceptable to carry snacks just about everywhere you want.

A few days ago, though, I was surprised by something. It was something that I didn’tstairs know would bring me a sense of joy I had never previously felt. We were not in the same room, my presence was not a thought in her mind. You see, my parents (her biddy and papaw) were downstairs with my wife eating breakfast while I got ready for church. Amidst lots of laughter, in the kitchen at the bottom of our stairs I heard Crosley say something:

“My daddy likes…” or “My daddy and me…”

Honestly, I have no idea what she said at the end of that sentence ( I think maybe it was that I like waffles?), but it didn’t really matter. I know that we have fun together. I know ways to make her smile. She’s still at an age where on most days she wants to be with me, to play, read stories, and whatever other random things that she decides we should do.

This was different.

As I was upstairs getting ready, I heard her say “My daddy likes…” and for a moment I smiled. But why?

Crosley1It’s because in that moment I heard her explain to someone else something about her relationship with me was memorable. Even better, I think it was positive. And even though I don’t know what that thing was, there was a connection made. It made me feel good that she thought enough of me to share a fact even when I wasn’t around.

Listen. I get that she’s a toddler and that one moment she shares a fact about me and the next is about Princess Belle and in her mind they might be on equal footing. I’m not going to let that steal my joy for now.

As I thought about that moment, it hit me. This has to be how God must feel when he hears us talk about Him. Sometimes we get caught up in saying the “right” thing or talking about our faith in a way that sounds just like everyone else. We begin to think that we aren’t good enough to share, that what we say isn’t interesting, or whatever other host of lies we allow ourselves to believe that aren’t true. We hold back.

Crosley shared something true and important to her. It came out of her experiences with me, her understanding of who I am, and she wanted nothing more to share it with others.

What if sharing our faith stories came in the same way? What if instead of making sure that everything was calculated and prepared, we talked about God out of the depths of our experience with Him? What if we shared everything, even the most random thoughts, simply because we couldn’t hold back?

It made me feel good to hear her speak. I imagine that is exactly how God feels when we share (with those who identify as believers AND those that don’t ) what is happening in our lives and how we have seen Him move.  I did not expect Crosley to have a well thought out, meticulously prepared statement about things that are important about our relationship. She shared what was happening then, at that moment.

This week I want to do a better job of sharing what God is doing in my life as I go about my usual day. I am firmly convinced that if we all did that more, the stories would be more interesting and they would be more real. 

And through that, God smiles.

Crosley5

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑