Parenting: Giving Added Value to a Child’s Christmas

He who would make children happy must do for them and do with them, rather than merely give to them. He must give himself with his gifts, and thus imitate and illustrate, in a degree, the love of Him who gave Himself to us, our needs, and who, with all that He gives us, holds out an expectation of some better thing in store for us: of that which passeth knowledge and understanding, but which shall fully satisfy our hopes and longings when at last we have it in possession.
-H Clay Trumbull

Rustic Christmas wreath on old weathered door with Christmas lights in a snow storm.
Rustic Christmas wreath on old weathered door with Christmas lights in a snow storm.

 

The story told in this chapter on Christmas was a story of anticipation. Children gathered round swelling stockings with suggestive outlines. Threads strung throughout the home for children to follow creating moments bursting with suspense as they race to see what mystery awaits them at their journey’s end. What cherished memories such experiences create.

This week I asked Jamie if she remembered what she was gifted last Christmas. She did better than I. I could hardly recall a thing. As we reflected on Christmases past the memories were not of things to hold in our hands but of things to hold in our hearts. I realized then that my focus had been just off. A bit or the whole way wrong, I am not yet sure I know. Nonetheless, too material for certain. The spirit of a gift given is undoubtedly a wonderful thing; focused on the other, a habit to exercise the wondrous joy of coming out of self. Still, something was missing or quite the opposite rather: something had been perverted along the way and was now in excess.

This Christmas we have set out to reverse the reality that the value placed on each gift amidst the abundance thereof is greatly diminished. To replace the abundance of things to hold in hand with an abundance of things to hold dear in our hearts as cherished memories. To replace the money leaving our account with self leaving our soul. We thought to ourselves what if we simply gave one gift? How could it not then be special? We are going to try to head this way, uncertain that the outcome will align with the longing for the cherished, but one thing is present already, anticipation is building.

Merry Christmas and may God bless you with the fruit of the Spirit, when we are less and He is more, shone through to all you enjoy His celebration with this year. May your Christmas abound in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness and temperance. Amen.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciate

Good Friends: Simplicity

True friends know, accept, love, serve, and celebrate one another.
-Bill Hybles

True Friends

There is nothing quite like spending time and doing life alongside true friends. It is fun. It is rewarding. It is fulfilling. It is truly a blessing. But more, in Bill Hybles opinion it leads to a simple life. King Solomon gives this advice in Proverbs 13:20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

People influence your life. People rub off. Bill Hybles suggest in his devotional simplify that your friends are a large factor to living a simple life. Have you ever been around someone who always seems to have a negative outlook? They seem to bring with them a cloud of drama wherever they go. I am a big proponent of positive thinking. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Seek out friends who display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hang out with them. Your life will get much simpler.

Are you a true friend? Are you taking the time to get to know people and focusing on how you can help them? Are you a positive person who brings good to others? In my estimation often the very best way to find a true friend or an awesome mate or a great business partner is to work hard on becoming one. Look to yourself and get to work, if you are anything like me you will find plenty to work on.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

The Two Things

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader success is all about growing others.
-Jack Welch

 jesus-washing-apostles-feet-39588-wallpaper 2

I was asked in an interview “since setting out in business, what lessons [I’ve] learned in leadership?” I shared what I call the two things. They are simple. Simple to understand. Simple to remember. Simple to see why these two things are it. Still they are not so simple to enact without fail. They take sacrifice. Sacrifice at a fundamental level. They take us out of ourselves. Away from us. Less self and more others. A good friend of mine taught me what leaders do. Leaders do two things:

  1. Leaders lead by example
  2. Leaders serve those they lead

Search your experiences and you will hopefully find a leader in your life who does these two things well. One thing to mention here is that anyone can lead. Power is not needed to lead. Authority is not needed to lead. Though power and authority will accrete to those who follow these two things.

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. – Chinese Proverb

The point duck in formation serves by example. Those that follow benefit from drift. Do you want to be a leader? Are you doing these two things?

 

 -A takeaway from an internrocket.com press interview

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Theological Virtues: Faith

“[Faith] is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
-C.S. Lewis

Faith

I have for some time now felt a sense of faith being: doing what you say you will do. That is, a man is faithful if he does what he says he will. He is faithful to his word. All along, at the same time, I felt there was much more to it. After a study on this virtue I think there is.

Still I think my former understanding holds true. A man who says he will so and so and does not, I’ve found is often a case of circumstances. “You see I would not have said I would have such and such if I knew that business about the thing was just round the corner.” Some are more tolerant of circumstances than others, more determined, and so we say they are more faithful or reliant than others.

I heard Zig Ziglar tell a story that paints the picture well I think in Born to Win. The story goes like this. There was a young sailor on a ship out at sea and some weather set on rather quickly. He was directed to hurry up the mast and see to something. Taking something in perhaps before the wind blew harder for too long and damaged something I suppose. The sea had begun to toss and turn as the young sailor made his way up the mast. Looking on an old sailor noticed this young man start to sway and lose his balance. His head looking side to side and his gaze being displaced with each crash of a wave. Just before the young sailor fell, the old sailor shouted, “Look up!”. And upon looking up and setting his sights on his destination the young sailor instantly regained his balance and quite possibly saved his life.

I believe each of us need to steady our gaze as the waves of life crash in to our world. I believe this steadies us. Sets us up. Stations us as something others can lean on and depend on. Produces in us something that we ourselves need to survive the circumstances.

As Christians I believe we are called to hold to our beliefs no matter the circumstances. Not in a stubborn way, but in a consistent way. A dependable way. You see, I think the reason most tend not to prefer the man who says one thing and does another is because we can not depend on him. He fails us. And I believe that this very lack of predictability, this lack of faithfulness, is what makes it difficult for them to relate to others. How do you relate to someone whose beliefs change with the wind? How do you relate to someone who is not sound in who they are? I have come to believe you are forced to take them as they are that day and make the best of it. The issue here being that the relation is very shallow. And I do not mean, diabolical or self seeking, I mean not very meaningful. The soil is shallow, there is just not much there to work with, to relate to. After all think about it, how do you relate to someone you do not know?

Christians can not be this way. Our faith in what we believe can not change with the waves of life. Though we do not know every detail of the future we should at least know that our brothers and sisters in Christ will hold fast to their beliefs. That we also, can be depended upon to have the same view of life tomorrow as today. Not that we will always do the right thing we know right, that is another matter altogether, but that our beliefs remain. This is faith. This is what is at the foundation of deep and meaningful relation to another. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring for another but knowing how they will think about it and look at it and approach it. This can be related to. Search your deepest most meaningful relationships and you will find this. You will find faith in the other.

But faith in what? For a Christian? Christ, of course. Knowing that what He said He would do, He will. Knowing that the words of the Bible are true. Knowing that those that have not come to pass yet will. Knowing that God is who He says He is and always will be. I have come to believe that this is the cornerstone of the eternal relationship with God that we all seek.

Wrapping up this study on the Christian virtues; Faith: an unfailing knowing. Hope: a desire to fulfill. Charity: an unconditional love. This verse cries out to me like never before.

“What a person desires is unfailing love”
Proverbs 19:22a

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from Born to Win by Zig Ziglar

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Forgiveness and Trust: Simplicity

To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

-Frederick Buechner

 forgiveness and trust: simplicity

 

Forgiveness: to let go: to let leave: to move on. Enough. Unresolved issues take up space. In his book, Crucial Conversations, Joseph Grenny argues that if you do not talk it out you will act it out. Passive aggressiveness. Acting it out, I believe, breaks down trust. A most useful characteristic. Trust speeds up. It bears time. Freeing us from needless worry about the distant future and distant past that we may focus on now and on eternity.

Acting it out creates more negative. Negative that slows and takes up more and more. That becomes harder and harder to forgive. That eventually break relationships. I believe margin works the other way round. If you have it, the hour conversation to talk it out now can be had. Which leads to more margin. Margin begets margin.

I have come to believe that if we lack margin now we can insert forgiveness and trust to set things on the right course.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

-A takeaway from Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny

-A takeaway from Mansfield’s book of Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Building Goodness: Simplicity

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.”

-King Solomon

Farmer Hand Touching Wheat Ears

Words build up.  Words tear down.  We create simplicity with our words.  We create drama with our words.  The things we say matter.  Each day, each interaction we have a choice to bless people with simplicity or burden them with unnecessary drag.  Our attitude is most critical to building a culture of simplicity in our community and organizations. Are you a culture builder or a culture buster?

What if at the end of a work day when you left to head home you could say “Today I persevered for my fellow, I blessed everyone with my words.  Today I built up the culture I belong to. Never tearing it down with even the slightest unnecessary burden or negativity.  I never criticized, condemned or complained”  How satisfying that day would be. How fulfilled we would feel.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Contentment Brings Margin: Simplicity

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

-C.S. Lewis

Creation Of Earth

I once heard a wise woman discourage the use of the word ‘bored’ in her household.  “Offensive to the creator” was her stance. How firm a foundation. Who are we to be bored with what God has given? In finances a basic understanding is to spend beneath the level provision provided. Contentment with what we are given will bring margin. We can budget time as we budget finances. We have all been allotted 24 hours a day and we all approach the future at that rate. How much progress is enough? Contentment will bring margin.  Who are we to say “this is not enough.” Enough money. Enough progress. How much is enough for you to be content? Do you yearn for self or for others? Do you toil for the perishable or for the eternal? Perhaps these are the questions of margin. To reveal what contentment you were set for.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.