Category Archives: Stuff My Pastor Said

Stuff My Pastor Said: Living Life Along the Way

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Whenever my plans don’t turn out the way I wanted, one of my favorite things to say is, “Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.”  Until recently, I didn’t know John Lennon said it first, I just knew it was my flip way to acknowledge that sometimes, despite our best plans and intentions, life doesn’t go the way you want it to go. In other words, to quote Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want.”  Or  like The Police said, “‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,’ is all I want to say to you.” That last one made no sense, but I was trying to stick with the theme.

Recently, I saw a different, deeper meaning to my “other plans” refrain. I meet regularly with a group of mom friends from my Classical Conversations homeschool group to “talk story,” encourage each other, pray for one another, and to do life together. We have been working our way through my pastor’s latest book, Jesus Pure & Simple

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Chapter 10 is about “Living Life Along the Way.” At the beginning of the chapter, Pastor Wayne talks about the time he was scheduled to lead worship at the mid-week service at church. To make the most of his time, he decided to practice his guitar in a local park rather than make the drive all the way back to his home. (If you’ve ever driven in Honolulu you understand why driving anywhere is usually not the most efficient use of your time.) In the park, he met a homeless man. Knowing he didn’t have a lot of time to spare, he really didn’t want to engage him, but when the man told him he was just learning the ukulele and asked if he wanted to play together for a little while, Pastor Wayne decided to stay a few extra minutes. He didn’t really want to and had plenty of other things he felt he needed to do with that time, but reluctantly he agreed.

As they played together, they began a conversation that led to a discussion about Jesus. Nothing overly deep or theological, just a basic introduction to who Jesus is and how He related to this man’s life. Eventually Pastor Wayne left and went on about his day, but the next week he went back to the same park with his guitar. He didn’t see his new friend, but he saw another man who said he remembered Pastor Wayne from when he played guitar with “Smitty.” The man told Pastor Wayne that Smitty had died a few days earlier from a massive heart attack.

Pastor Wayne realized that while he thought he was supposed to be preparing to lead worship at church, God had something else in mind. His main job that day was to talk to Smitty about Jesus.

“Life happened along the way….”

In that chapter, Pastor Wayne points out a few of the instances in Jesus’s ministry on earth where important acts happened along the way. The woman with the hemorrhage who touched Jesus’s garment when he was on the way to heal  Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:21-43). The lepers who were healed on the way to show themselves to the priest (Luke 17:11-19). The woman at the well that Jesus met when he was on the way from Galilee down to Jerusalem.

As I was reading, I realized that often what I see as a hindrance to my plans may be what God had planned for me all along. Instead of huffing and puffing because I didn’t get my way, I want to start looking at these interruptions or detours as opportunities that I don’t want to miss.

Perhaps a cancelled event is actually unexpected free time at home with my family. Gridlock on the highway can lead to an impromptu sing-along with the kids, complete with our own crazy versions of the lyrics. (It’s not, “Whoa, my bread is on fire, but my eggs are fine;” it’s “Whoa, my head is on my fire, but my legs are fine.” Maybe fun. should work a little harder on enunciation.)  A long line at Costco could actually be the place I’m going to meet a new friend who’s stuck waiting with me. When my plans are thwarted, maybe it’s an opportunity to model for my kids how to respond gracefully when life throws me a curveball.  Maybe my plan wasn’t the actual plan after all, but just another avenue for God to get me to the place He wants me to be.

This new perspective keeps me from wallowing in the “what now!” moments of my day. Whatever the reason may be for the unexpected twists and turns, I want to be flexible enough to let go of my own agenda in order to surrender to His.

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Just something to think about.

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Stuff My Pastor Said: Your Five Percent

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This is the first of an ongoing series of posts about “Stuff My Pastor (Pastor Wayne) Said” that made me think. I love my church. It’s a  big reason Kelly and I wanted to move back here. We made lifelong friends at this church when we lived here before, and even though some of our most loved friends have moved on to do great things in other great places, we feel like this is where our family needs to be right now. I like leaving every week with thoughts to chew and digest through the week. It feels good to want to go to church again.

I’ve been thinking about something my pastor said during the first message of 2013. He was talking about moving beyond our good intentions. Most of us start off each new year intending to do better and be better but fall short because just setting goals isn’t enough.  I can intend to eat healthier and exercise. I can wear cute workout clothes and running shoes all day. I can even “pin” 131 ab exercises and “clean eating” recipes, but none of those activities will result in a healthier me at the end of the day if wishing, hoping, even planning is all I do.

This is not new information. But then something Pastor Wayne said made me think.  He said 85% of the stuff we do every day are tasks anyone else could do. Eat meals, answer emails, post lame status updates on Twitter, fold laundry: anyone could do those things. Ten percent of what we do someone with training could do. B.C. (before children), I was a registered nurse. I had to go to school and pass a test to get a nursing license, but anyone else with a nursing license could do the things I did as a nurse. But 5% of what I do, no one else can do and that is what I am going to be held accountable for at the end of my life. To move beyond good intentions, I have to identify that 5% and plan all of my activities accordingly. Pastor Wayne encouraged us to write our five percent in our calendars so we would be reminded daily of what should be most important.

So what is my 5%?

First, only I can keep myself spiritually fit. No one else can spend time reading the Bible for me. No one else can grow closer to God for me. I have to do that for myself.

Second, only I can be Kelly’s wife. No one else better even try.

Third, only I can be my kids’ mom.  And at least for this season, only I am called to be their teacher.

Fourth, only I can be the daughter, sister, and friend to those God has put in my life to love.

Those relationships are my God-given right and responsibility. At the end of time, no one else will be held accountable for what kind of wife or mother or friend they had but me.

Fifth, only I can take care of my physical well being. Oh, how I wish I could farm that chore out to anyone crazy enough to enjoy exercising because I do not, but at the end of the day, I have to take care of this body that God gave me.

Finally, only I can show up in my own life. Only I can live and love my life to the fullest. No one else can appreciate the blessings of my life for me. I get to do that and if I don’t, no one misses out on my life more than I do.

It’s not necessarily what we do in life that will count at the end, it’s how much of what God asked us to do that we actually did that will matter.  Just because I’m busy doing good things doesn’t mean I’m busy doing the right things.

Under each item on my calendar I’ve listed a practical step I can take this month to make sure that my 5% is my priority. For example, I wrote down that I would start journaling my alone time with God again. I wrote that I would work on speaking to my children in a calm voice. I wrote that I would work towards getting 7 hours of sleep at least 3 times a week and start taking my vitamins again. For each item I listed I wrote something I could actively do.

Since I’ve started working on my 5%, I’ve had to make some changes. I’ve had to say no to some good things in order to make room for even better things.

I’m still figuring things out. Last week, I read a post my friend Meredith wrote that resonated with me in this new “5% Season.” She asked her husband to look at her schedule with her to help her find more white space. I thought this was brilliant because, A, sometimes we need objective eyes on a situation to see what we can’t, and B, that had to make John feel like a validated and trusted member of her team. She made me realize it would be prudent to make an accounting of how I’m spending my time each day by writing it down so I can see what I do each day. I know I fritter away minutes I would desperately love to have to do worthwhile things. Or simply to have white space to dream….or write on my blog that I desperately miss.

I also read a post from Shaun Groves that made me realize I need to take care of my body and do the things I’ve always “intended” to do while I still have the health and youth (comparatively speaking anyway) to do them.

It has all been food for thought. Kind of like this verse:  Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 90:12).

How do you number your days? Any tips for keeping the most important things the most important things?

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