Vacationing Well

I’m not know for my rest and relaxation skills.
After a fun weekend of hanging out together a friend said “Renée, you should have a warning sticker on you that says ‘Warning: Highly Active Person.’” My idea of a great vacation is more along the lines of how many miles we can canoe or hike then it is how much lying on the beach we can do. I have never been accused of being a slacker, I have fairly been accused of being driven. You get the picture. I tend to work hard and play hard.
I don’t think I’m the only one.
I’ve observed leader and ministry types, in particular, can find vacationing well particularly difficult.

Slowly, but surely over the last ten years, God’s been teaching me what it means to rest and Sabbath well, including vacationing!
I wrote a thesis on a theology of play. Yes, I get the irony of writing a 170 page thesis on play. Yet, it was what I needed to convince my brain of how good, important and holy play and vacation is in our lives. It has taken longer for the practices to work their way into my heart and life.

Play and vacation may look different for all of us, but we need it! I won’t launch into my thesis here, suffice to say it is good and it is holy. God invites you to delight in all that is good. God invites you to times of retreat and rest.

Here are some suggestions on how to vacation well.

1. Hand-off: As much as possible make a plan for things to be covered at work while you are away. It takes effort to make this plan, but it’ll give you greater peace of mind while you are away and make it easier when you come back. This can be challenging for Pastors and in particular Associate Pastors, but it is worth the effort.

2. Get away from technology: Being plugged-in all the time keeps us alert and “on.” It is too easy to notice something going on at work that we think we need to respond to quickly. Loose the phone, email and even watch. I really enjoy losing my watch on vacation and going by the schedule of those around me or by when my body tells me I’m hungry or tired. Consider whether you need to loose Netflix and social media for vacation too.

3. Give time for de-compression: I’ve noticed it takes me a few days to unwind and get in vacation mode. Those first 2-3 days of vacation are essential in setting the tone for vacation and helping me unplug. For me I’ve found I have to be busy those first few days doing something active (e.g. hiking) or odd jobs (different than my work jobs, work on the house/yard etc.). If I just do nothing in the first few days I go crazy and conclude vacation is not for me.

4. Give time for re-entry: It can feel like hitting a brick wall when I come back after vacation. I’m learning to give myself grace and a few days to get back in the swing of things. On your email/phone vacation reply say you’ll be returning messages starting a couple days after you return from vacation to take the pressure off yourself. Try to leave the first few days back at work meeting free to give yourself time to get back up to speed and your head around work again.

5. Do something different: Use vacation to get up to different activities than you usually do. For me that means getting away from a desk and getting outside in creation and around family/friends. If you build houses for your work it is not a vacation to work on your own house. Give your body/mind a break and do something different. I really enjoy hiking, paddling or those sort of activities on vacation because it engages my body and takes my mind away from work and allows my thoughts to wander.

6. Get around people that refuel you: Spend time with those you care about and bring you life. Catch up with an old friend. Plan a meal, hike or visit with people you’ve been wanting to connect with more. Spend time with that person who makes you feel encouraged and heard.

7. Celebrate and enjoy the good around you: Enjoy the simplest of gifts from God – good food, fun music, play sports that give you joy, read things that refresh your soul, enjoy deep conversations, laugh…

8. Change up your spiritual disciplines during vacation: Usually I’m a faithful journaler and Bible reader. During vacation I change it up.
Try
• Listening to new worship music
• Checking out a different church near where you are vacationing
• Going through the alphabet and naming all the things you are thankful for that start with each letter of the alphabet (involve those in the car, on the hike or around the table with you.)
• Listening to a new podcast
• Read a version of the Bible you usually don’t
• Get yourself to a spot in creation that reminds you how great and good God is

9. Linger: Slow down. One of the great things about vacation is freedom from our usual schedules. During vacation I enjoy lingering longer with a cup of tea at the dinner table, lingering after I get back from a run to chat to the neighbours, lingering on a walk to smell the roses, lingering at the farmers market to take it all in and try some new foods.

10. Sleep: Rest up. Turn off the alarm, take naps, go to bed early… Sleep and rest will restore you.

Have a great vacation!
-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood

Psalm 96:11-13a
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD

vacation in baptism tank

Thriving when life goes from 0 to 100 km/h for a season

September seems to be that season in ministry, in families, in workplaces and in schools when life very quickly ramps up.
I feel it.
Talk to Youth and Children’s Pastors – they feel it, as programs ramp back up, big events start coming at them fast and furious and everyone wants to meet with them again.
Talk to Senior and Solo pastors – they feel it, as everyone is asking about plans for the year, the phone calls and emails increase tenfold, programs ramp up, Sundays come at them with amazing regularity and vacation now seems like a distant memory.
Talk to Parents – they feel it, their kids activities start to fill in all the blank spaces in the calendar, they start feel like a taxi driver again and the kids always seem to need more food and more money.
Talk to Students – they feel it, the syllabi overwhelm them and assignments, tests and exams start to fill their calendar.
When is your 0 to 100 km/h season?

I’ve come to expect it now. I know every September it is going to get a little crazy, a little too full for a while. There are other seasons when this happens too. Seasons when things very quickly seem to go from 0 to 100 km/hr.

Here are the things I remind myself of in a 0 to 100 km/h season, so that I continue to lead well and my life and character continues to display Christ, even in the busy seasons.

1. Write down your top 1 to 3 priorities for the next 3 months – focus on those things. This helps me remember what God, my team and myself really are expecting me to accomplish in the next stretch. When I know my top 3 priorities it is much easier to decide what can wait, what I can say ‘no’ to and what really needs my attention each day. Seriously, write the 1 to 3 things down somewhere where you’ll see them. I’ve found for this short season 5 priorities is too many and can feel overwhelming. This is for a season, 3 priorities or even just 1 is enough.

2. One step at a time – The old saying is true, “how do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.” In a busy season it can seem impossible to get anything done. It can seem your email, phone, meetings or the urgent dictates your schedule/day. In busy seasons especially I remind myself “one step at a time”, “what’s one step?” Break down tasks or projects into steps. Ask, “What is one step I can take today to move the ball further down the field for my top priorities?” I’m famous for making charts and lists. I tell you, there is just something about seeing things broken down in a chart or list, where you can clearly see how things will be tackled and then can start checking things off step by step.

3. Lean into the things that restore your soul – in a busy season it can be tempting to skimp on doing the things that restore your soul, even things like spending time alone with God in His Word. I’ve learned (often the hard way) that during busy season I need to be even more protective of my soul care activities and fight to not let them go. Quite simply, I actually need them more in a busy season. I especially need to be protective of my alone time with God so I’m hearing from Him about priorities and receiving everything I need from Him to bring Him glory in this season. When I skimp on these things a 100 km/h season can easily go off track at high speed. That is a sad sight to see.

4. Rest – This one always seems counter intuitive to me. In a 100 km/h season my reaction always is to work harder, work longer, stay up later and get up earlier. I’m learning I get way further ahead if I quit at a reasonable time and get a good night’s sleep. When I sleep well I am better able to handle the stresses of the day and I’m simply a nicer person in the process. Yup, there are some stretches where sleep just gets shorter (long meetings, new parents etc.), but if I go into the season knowing it is temporary and I will seek to get good sleep when I can, I do much better.

5. Ask for help – Trust others, invite them in to help in this season. Ask yourself, “what can I give away in this season?” Entrust things to volunteer, give your kids more chores, tell the team & family what kind of season it is for you and how they can help, invite others to pitch in.

6. Tell God – Tell God how you are feeling in this season and what you need in this season. Ask God to guide your steps, your lists and your priorities. Ask God to give His perspective on this season. I have found it completely perspective changing when I have balcony time with God and I can walk away with a fresh view on what He’s doing in a season. Receive what God wants to give you to thrive in this season. For some leaders receiving is the hardest part.

7. Tell those closet to you, especially those you live around – Make a plan to get through this busy season and still like each other at the end. Plan short pockets of time together. Plan a vacation together at the end of the busy season. Plan a mini celebration when you get through the season or a priority is accomplished.

8. What’s your cruising altitude? – Know yourself and your seasons. 100 km/h seasons are sustainable for a little while, but not forever. We are not created to maintain them season after season. Make sure this season does not last forever. To keep the analogy going, I’m learning I function best at about 75 km/h, I’m focused, handling the load, leading well and able to have good rhythms of rest and play. I also have some margin, in case something unexpected comes up. If it’s a 50 km/h season I get antsy and want to see things get moving. If it’s 20 km/h season I get bored and start day dreaming and get unfocused. If it’s a 100 km/h season I know I cannot maintain it for longer than a season. What’s your prime speed? What’s your cruising altitude?

Hope this helps.
What helps you come through busy seasons thriving? Please add your thoughts in the comments. It’s great learning from each other.
-Renée @r_embree

Eat this book

Eat this book – inviting people to chew on God’s Word

I believe one of the most important things we can do as leaders is to help people know how to connect with God themselves. We need to show the attitude that they don’t need us. While God does use people to explain and apply God’s Word, we all need to learn to feed on God for ourselves. The Holy Spirit is just as much at work in their lives as ours (leaders). They can hear from God and learn to recognize God’s voice in their life when we’re not their preaching or guiding them. They can “eat this book” to steal a phrase from Eugene Peterson. The Bible is meant to be chewed on, regurgitated, chewed on some more and lived out.

Recently in a workshop I shared one method that has helped me through the years as I read the Bible for my own transformation. It is also a method I have shared with youth and young adults numerous times and they have said it’s been helpful at getting them started.  Everyone is wired a little differently so you/they might need to tweak the tools to find what works well for you, but tools give us a starting place.

I use my journal to write down what comes up as I go through this method for Bible reading. For me using a journal helps me express to God what I need to express and to capture what He highlights to me. Journaling somehow makes the conversation with God be more real, tangible and memorable for me. If journaling doesn’t work for you, find what does. It’s not the method that matters, it is the connecting with God that matters! Experiment and find what works for you. You may also find different methods or routines connect better in different seasons.

For a while I used my phone when reading God’s Word for my personal time with God. However, for me, I found I was too easily distracted and tempted by everything else on my phone. I’d start out in my Bible app but then end up checking Facebook, twitter, the news, my email… I’ve gone back to using my paper Bible, journal and pen.

I see two purposes in writing today’s blog…

  1. To give leaders a push and tools to teach those they lead to read their Bibles for their own transformation
  2. To give leaders a push to engage with God’s Word on their own, not for preparing anything, but to sit with their Heavenly Father and hear from Him, respond to Him, share with Him, be with Him. I’m sad to say I know Christian leaders often struggle with this.

This is a simple method, which I find helps because I can remember it and apply it easily.

  1. Find a spot where I can listen to God & pray “God, speak to me, I’m listening”

youre-in-my-spot

Whenever we are establishing a new routine in our lives experts tells us it is helpful to try doing the new thing at the same time and same place each day. It helps us create a new rhythm. So find a spot and time that works for you to read God’s word and allows you to give it the attention it needs. Everyone is different – find what works for you. My spot is a chair in my sun-room, right after breakfast with my coffee in hand.

  1. Read a short section of Scripture.

More important than getting through a lot of Scripture is that we engage with the Scripture we are reading. Free yourself from thinking you need to get through a huge chunk of Scripture or a whole chapter. Instead read a short section of Scripture and squeeze all the juice out of it. Sometimes I set my watch to beep at me, so rather than worrying about how far I get in Scripture, I read and engage fully with what I can until my watch beeps and then I know I’ve really got to get going for the day.

A reminder when we’re teaching folks to read their Bibles, some in our audience will have no idea how to look up a book, chapter and verse in the Bible, so help them out. Some will not have a Bible app on the phone yet, so help them with that too.

  1. SOAP – Ask yourself or write down four things (S.O.A.P.):

soap

In my journal I write down the following four things:

S = Scripture – One thing (word, verse, phrase or idea) that stood out to me is…

O = Observation – Why does it stand out? Does it encourage or challenge me? How?

A = Application – One action I can take to apply this to my life is…

P = Prayer – Lord, from this I pray…

If writing in a journal doesn’t work for you, find what does – keeping a note on your Bible app, starting a document on your computer/tablet, saying it out loud, telling someone or thinking it. I know someone that does this while they walk laps. They read, then the first lap the think about the S, the second lap they think about the O, the third lap they think about the A and on the fourth lap they pray.

After presenting this method to a group there are two things I’ve done to challenge groups to start to “eat this book”.

  1. Get the whole group to do the same plan from YouVersion. There are different length plans and there even is a section specifically for youth devotionals. Basically the write-up on YouVersion helps you with the S and O of SOAP, and then you have to invite God to help you know the Application and Prayer as it applies to your life. There is great encouragement in knowing a whole group of others is also doing the same devo you are and will be talking about it when you are done.
  1. Eat this Book Challenge – I give each person a copy of a chart to fill in, with SOAP across the top and the sections of Scripture I invite them to read down the left hand side. Each day they are to fill in the chart. Here’s a sample. Feel free to use it.

Eat This Book Challenge

The Challenge: Follow the plan below for 7 days for an overview of the book of Luke. Record something here or in your journal each day. Use the S.O.A.P. model to help you. Do this alone, with a friend or with a group. Note: If you miss a day, that happens, just pick-up where you left off. Some days you’ll have lots to write, some days you’ll hardly write anything at all. That is ok.

PS – If you want more of a challenge read one chapter of the book of Luke each day. You’ll get through the book of Luke in 24 days.

Day Read SCRIPTURE One thing (word, phrase or idea) that stood out to me is… OBSERVATIONWhy does it stand out? Does it encourage or challenge me? APPLICATIONOne action I can take to apply this to my life is… PRAYERLord, from this verse, I pray…
1 Luke 4:14-22
2 Luke 5:17-26
3 Luke 7:36-50
4 Luke 10:25-37
5 Luke 14:1-14
6 Luke 15:1-32
7 Luke 18:9-27
Way to go! Party! Celebrate!

Hope this helps you and others to eat this book. May you find God meeting you in significant ways as you chew on His Word.

 -Renée @r_embree

4 reasons to get healthier and how to get started

It hit me one fall. My metabolism was slowing down! Being involved in youth work I’d been tempted to think I could still eat like the youth and not think twice. However I discovered I could no longer pull an all-nighter, eat junk with the youth and then be back to normal a day later. Furthermore, when I looked around at people in my profession (ministry), particularly those about 10 years down the line, I recognized we tend not to be a healthy lot. It hit me, if I didn’t take care of myself no one else would. It hit me, I needed to get moving.

Here’s four reasons I’ve come to discover, from a Christian perspective, we need to care for our physical bodies. These reasons are more theological, about why this matters as followers of Jesus. More practical advice is at the end of this blog.

1. It’s a good gift! How I steward and care for this gift of my body displays both how much I appreciate the gift and how I’ll steward other gifts and responsibilities the Lord gives me. If I’m not taking care of this gift and responsibility, how ready am I really for greater gifts and responsibilities? And this gift can give big returns. How we treat this gift of our body greatly affects how it functions. Care for this body and it can last for years and is capable of amazing things – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I take care of this gift not just for myself, but to be better ready to serve the Kingdom and be available to those around me – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s difficult to be all I’m called to be for God and others if I’m not healthy enough for the task. If the first thought in your head when someone asks for your time or energy is “I’m too tired” it’s time to take a look at how you are stewarding this gift of your body.

2. You cannot separate the physical from the spiritual. We are embodied creatures. The two are inseparably connected. I know this is true! When I’m physically tired the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) just don’t flow as freely from me. When I am physically healthy, strong and confident, I am more likely to be wise, kind, strong and confident in my following and leadership. Furthermore I’ve found the discipline, lessons, perseverance and more I’ve learned through exercise and health have translated on many occasions to my walk with Christ and to leadership.

3. Jesus is renewing all things, including your body – One day Jesus is coming back to renew all things and line-up everything with His good Kingdom. It does not say Jesus scraps everything and start out fresh. Jesus is renewing all things. There seems to be some continuity with what is here now and what is going to be. Think of Jesus resurrected body, there was continuity between His earthly body and His resurrected body. He still had the scars in his hands and wound on his side, it took a bit for some people to recognize who He was, but they did recognize Him and Jesus ate with the disciples. Yet there were also somethings that were different in Jesus resurrected body, for instance He walked through walls! Recognizing that this body will be renewed, and that this earthly body has some connection to my resurrection body raises the stakes for me. God’s Kingdom has already broken into this world, He is already renewing and redeeming all things, including our bodies. We can participate in the renewal of our bodies.

4. Our bodies were created to move. It’s amazing, we have joints, muscles, ligaments, lungs, hearts…all designed to work hard and move. When I sit at a desk all day I am not at my best and not being all I was designed to me. When I move it helps me not only physically, but I’ve also seen it help me think more clearly, gain a fresh perspective, deal with emotions, and hear from God. Running sure is a fun way to get to know my neighbourhood. Plus, on more than one occasion I’ve quickly pulled out a scrap of paper to jot down the sermon that just became clear on a run.

I’m convinced that building exercise and healthy eating into my routine helps me be a better follower, leader, neighbour, family member and friend. That is not to say it is easy! It takes effort, including making an intentional effort to guard the time and make short-term, daily decisions that will benefit my body and health in the long-run. People who know I like to run have assumed I just spring out of bed in the morning to go out early for a run. Let me tell you, some mornings when that alarm goes off just before 6 am there is still an internal debate. Each time I have to repeat to myself why it’s important and so worth it to get out from under the covers. However, I’m always glad when I get myself out the door.

Some of my top tips on how to get started on the path towards better health…
1. Write down your motivation for getting healthy and share it with those close to you

2. Set realistic goals and make them known. My suggestion would be, even more helpful than weight goals are setting behaviours goals around amount of time outside, or how many home made meals you’ll have, or how much fresh fruit/vegetable you’ll have in a day, or how much time you want to be able to walk or run for by the end of the month, how many times you’ll go to that gym class…

3. Aim to move. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, but get moving. Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference. There are loads of apps, exercise routines and options out there. Two helpful apps are “MyFitnessPal” and “mapmyrun”.

4. Put it in your schedule and make it as non-negotiable as any other important meeting. Something becomes a new habit after four to six weeks. Success comes more quickly if you make it regular, consistent, a similar time each day and non-negotiable. Decide when you are going to do ahead of time and lay your clothes / meal containers out ahead of time.

5. Start with one thing, make one change – cut out snacking, cut out pop, add in a walk, add a new vegetable/fruit to your diet each week, start an exercise video on youtube, only eat food where you can easily pronounce the ingredients, start a walk-to-run program…

6. Find a partner – either to do the exercise with you or to hold you accountable to your goals for each week

7. Get enough sleep – go to bed earlier and aim to set a regular bed time and wake up time

8. Drink water – Drink lots of water. Cut out the pop & juice and replace it with water. Sometimes when I think I’m tired or hungry, I actually just need more water. And I just don’t need the sugar and calories in pop and juice, I’d rather eat my calories. If you get tired of water add some lemon or lime or orange slices.

9. Have fun – remember what it was like to be a kid and play outside all evening or the games you liked to play. Go play!

I’m cheering you on! Let’s get moving.

-Renée @r_embree

Why every leader needs a mentor

Mentors help us reach higher than we could on our own.

I can have a strong independent streak. I know this about myself. I have to keep checking myself to make sure I’m allowing others to speak into my life, intentionally inviting others to help and engaging my team. One day, during my undergrad days, I was trying to move a large piece of furniture by myself when my roommate Desneige came home. She said “Here, let me help you” and I kept saying “It’s ok, I can do it myself.” Desneige’s answer was brilliant “I know, but God gave us friends to make things easier.” That has stuck with me, I might think I’m able or even be able to do something on my own, but that doesn’t mean I should. God gave us each other to make the load easier, you and I do not have to carry it alone.

Bill Hybels says “Our hearts were not built to handle the hardships and heartaches of ministry alone”

I picture my mentors like that person, when I used to climb trees as a kid, that would create a step by putting their two hands together, and then give me a boost into the tree. They help me reach higher and go further than I could on my own.

A mentor is someone who helps you recognize what God is doing in your life. They help you clarify the things that are in your head and in your heart.

Mentoring needs to be intentional. You need to ask someone to be your mentor. They need to know they are playing this role in your life and what you need their mentoring to look like in this season. Where do you need help growing? Where do you need greater clarity in your life? What questions do you need them to ask you regularly? How often will you meet – where and when?

Leaders, I challenge you to be intentional about setting up a mentor for your life and leadership.

Who could be your mentor? Who asks you the deeper questions? Or could ask you the deeper questions, if you intentionally ask them to play this role in your life? Another way of asking this is, who would you take to the Garden of Gethsemane with you?

Here is why every leader needs a mentor (This list could also help you know what to look for in a mentor):

1. They want God’s best for you. They do not have an ulterior motive. 

A mentor is someone that truly wants what is God’s best for you and your life. They want to see you flourish for God’s Kingdom. That’s why your mentor should be someone outside your family or even outside your immediate leadership context (e.g. your church or camp) as it is difficult for those on the inside to not have other motives for you and when they are in the middle of the same leadership challenges/opportunities their own motives for the situation can come through. A mentor sees your identity and calling beyond any one role.

2. They help you navigate the road more smoothly

A mentor should be someone that is a little further along in the leadership journey than you, or further along in the area where you are seeking growth in your life. They are someone who has “been there, done that”, not that they have it all figured out, or that they faced the exact same challenges, but they are a little further along in the journey than you. Their wisdom and experience makes you sharper. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

3. Offer you a fresh perspective

They are someone you can be completely honest with and you trust them. You don’t have to worry what they will think of the things going through your head and your struggles as a leader, they know you are human. When you are stuck in the middle of your life and decisions, they can help you see the big picture. The key mentor in my life has so often helped me clarify what God is up to in my life by helping me have a fresh perspective on my situation. When we are in the middle of all the challenges and opportunities that come with leadership, it can be harder to see the balcony perspective. Often, with just one question, my mentor has helped me clarify what is really going on and God’s work in the midst of it all.  She asks really good questions like: Where is your loyalty?  Where is God in this? Is that your over sense of responsibility or from God? What is holding you back? What’s your deeper prayer?

4. Push you in the right direction

Pick a mentor the models the characteristics and values you admire, and they can help you move in that direction. If you are trying to grow in a certain discipline, like Sabbath keeping for example, find a mentor who does that well, learn from them and ask them to push you in that direction. Further, when we are considering a step out of the boat for the Lord, our mentor can be the one to cheer us on.

5. You are not the only one

It can be incredibly good in leadership to have someone else say “I’ve struggled with that too”. Someone that normalizes our experiences and helps us see we are not alone. Leaders need someone that can say, I lived through a season like that, you are not crazy, but you can get through it.

So – if you have a mentor, how can you lean into that relationship more?

If you don’t have a mentor, get going! Send someone an email with one of the tough questions you are facing right now and invite their input. Invite someone out for coffee. Go for a walk. Pick up the phone and ask someone if they could be a mentor to you.

If you need a starting place, when I started with my mentor, we started by asking these questions of each other:

  1. One highlight from seeing God at work.
  2. The biggest challenge right now?
  3. The biggest question in my head right now?
  4. Where my heart is with God and what I sense God is saying in this season?
  5. Invitation to challenge me or speak into life.
  6. How am I REALLY doing?
  7. Prayer

Happy mentoring!

Renée @r_embree

Four Lessons from a Double Snow Day

Blizzard-Warning1

If you know me at all it is no secret that winter is my least favourite time of the year. To say that I am not a fan of the cold or the white stuff is putting it lightly. As the weather gets colder I find myself on travel websites dreaming of palm trees and sandy beaches… All that to say I was not thrilled with the Blizzard that greeted most of Atlantic Canada this past week and gifted students with the rare double snow day.

Even though I would much prefer a hot summer day, I think there are lessons for us to learn from snow days.

Here are four that came to my mind this past week.

#1 – The world keeps going just fine without me. Sometimes in the busyness of my schedule and all of the things I have to do I can get caught up in it all and think that it all depends on me. Snow days, when the schedule goes out the window and I just stay home, are a good reminder that I’m not all that important. The same principle I think holds in our attempt to partner with God in mission. As important as it is for us to join with God it is even more important I think to remember that it is God who does the work and we don’t need to do it in our own strength.    

#2 – Look for the positive. I’ve already mentioned that for me the snow is not a good thing. A Blizzard and double snow day would not be what I would usually refer to as a positive thing. At the same time, as I watch my children celebrate the news that school is cancelled and play outside in the freshly fallen snow I am reminded of the importance of looking for the positive. Rather than dwelling on the negative it is important for us to be people who think about things that our good, noble, and true. After all, who wants to spend time with someone who is complaining all the time and it is pretty hard to be missional if no one wants to be around you.

#3 – Family is important. Two days home with my children reminded me just how important they are and how worthy they are of my time and attention. Again, this is a good lesson when meetings and programs and events fill up the calendar.

#4 – Rest is a good thing. I worked from home the second snow day but took the first one just as a day off. I did nothing work related at all. I did clear the driveway but spent most of the day playing with the kids, enjoying strong coffee by the fire, reading a book that I have been meaning to get to, and taking it easy. It was wonderful. The result of that day was renewed energy and drive to get at the things that needed to get done the next day! It is almost like we were created for a rhythm like this. Mark Buchanan describes Sabbath as God giving us permission to take a snow day every week. Why wouldn’t we take Him up on it! We will be much more effective in mission and ministry.

These are a few things that I was reminded of this past week. And as much as I might wish otherwise, I’m sure there will be many more chances for me to learn these lessons before summer gets here… the Weather Network is calling for more snow tomorrow, Saturday and Monday.

– Adrian

@AdrianDGardner