Loving My Family

I’d do almost anything for my mom if I know she really needs my help.  If an emergency comes up, I’ll take off from work and drive 100 miles to go be with her at the drop of a hat.  She’s family and I love her.  And I’ll do just about anything to help my family when they’re in serious need.

As an unmarried, only child, my physical family is pretty small.  But, as a child of God, my family is ginormous. God asks us to live life together as a family and share and help one another as need arises.  Unfortunately, either I often don’t see the needs of my family, or my family doesn’t express their needs to me.  But, I know various people in my family are hurting and needing help.  How can I better realize their needs and help them in both practical ways and lifting them in prayer?  I want to grow in this area.

Last week my mom had several physical needs and I took off several days from work to help her and be at her side.  About the same time, I learned of 3 families at church who had deaths of close friends and family.  And I also learned about 2 marriages that were going through some pretty rough times.  Normally I’d probably say a quick prayer for these situations, but this past week God has somewhat broken me over these hurts and needs.  I’ve actually spent many different times praying and crying over these hurts and needs of my ‘family’ members.  It’s been an eye and heart opening experience to be broken by these hurts.  I want to continue to grow in noticing and helping my family.

Lord, continue to work in my life so that I’m broken when my family is broken.  Help me to notice when my family is hurting and broken.  Help me to grow in my willingness and passion in practically praying and assisting when my family needs help.  And, continue to lift up and strengthen these 6 groups of people in my family.  I especially ask you to bless these 2 troubled marriages, as well as 2 others that came to mind tonight.  Touch them in a mighty and miraculous way as only you can!

A Little Less Action, and a Lot More Talk

This is the second part in my series on 5 life lessons that I learned from Labor Day weekend in 2005, while volunteering with efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

When we arrived at Baton Rouge and checked in for job assignments, my team was told that we were needed to comfort and encourage people at a medical clinic and at a shelter.  I remember thinking, “What!  I don’t know how to comfort people.  I was expecting to do real stuff like clear brush, move supplies, or repair houses.  I don’t know how to comfort people, let alone lead others in doing this.  Give me a chainsaw instead.”

Then suddenly I was put at ease.  I told my team that I was a bit anxious about this sort of work but encouraged them (and myself) that this just meant listening to people, understanding their struggles and pain, and giving plenty of hugs.  I could do that.

Over the next two days I used my skills as best I could to look up information for people on the internet.  I connected a mother to her daughter that was about to give birth in a hospital.  I looked up phone numbers for distant family members.  I sent email to people to let them know their family members were in our shelter.  I searched through the lists of missing, safely found, and confirmed dead for names of their family and friends.

But, the bigger thing I did was that I took time to listen to each person who asked for my help.  People were lonely, confused, and hurting.  They wanted a friend who cared, even if it was only for a few minutes or hours.

I heard a elderly man tell me how he got out of his house, only to discover his wife didn’t follow him out immediately and was then trapped.  He left his home absolutely helpless to save her.  I could tell several others had similar experiences, but they couldn’t work up the courage to talk about it.  Instead we’d exchange big bear hugs with understanding tears in our eyes.

Several other people told me how they had been estranged from their families in previous years and how that was so painful now when they needed them.  Besides the trauma of the hurricane, the hurricane brought their normal, every day pain to the surface and they couldn’t ignore it as easily as normal.

People need compassion and relationship more than they need their questions answered or problems fixed.  While it’s good to help people by serving them, everyone’s deepest needs are for love and relationship.

Lord, help me to see people’s need for love and relationship.  Help me not get distracted with doing good things and miss really getting to know the people around me.

Am I the only one who struggles with this?  Tell me about your experiences and struggles with this.  We can encourage each other in this area.

Discipline, Procrastination, & Passion

Recently I’ve been putting a lot of thought into why I actually do, or don’t do, things. I mean, why is it that I a tend to live an undisciplined life? Why do I not want to do my laundry, wash dishes, lose weight, eat healthy, etc.? You’re issues may be different, but I bet there are things that you feel like you should do, but have a hard time following through with them.

Last week an idea really clicked with me. Living a disciplined life should not be the goal. Rather a discipline is something that I do so that I can live a certain way. The act of taking out the garbage isn’t my goal. Eating healthy isn’t my goal. Rather those are things that I do so that I can live life and not get distracted by those things.

So, what are some of my goals? I want to live a life full of passion. I want to be connected in meaningful relationships with people. I want to help people experience a meaningful life. So, I need to strategically lead my own life so that things don’t distract me from these goals. That’s where discipline enters the picture.

I want to focus on a few disciplines that help me to not get distracted from my goals:

  • By spending time in God’s Word, I can learn from His passion.
  • By focusing on my health, I can live more vigorously and invest more freely in relationships.
  • By studying and reading, I can develop skills in leading people.

I need to understand what my motivation is. It’s so easy to get caught up in a task and forget why it’s even important.

Where have you lost your motivation recently? What is an area of your life you want to grow in, and how can a discipline help with it?

Life Lessons from 2007 – Part 1

This past year has definitely been the hardest year of my life. At the same time it’s been my most defining and best year. Today I begin a series of posts to help me look at the past year and document what I’ve been learning through various hardships.

It actually started over a year ago. In October 2006 God really started challenging my faith and belief.

“Bill, if you believe that faith in Jesus is key to people finding hope, forgiveness and eternal life, why don’t you seem to care? Why don’t you care about people? People who are far from God? People you work with? People from church? Family? Bill, what have I called you to? Didn’t I say love me and love the people around you? I didn’t call you to some other mission.”

I never heard an audible voice or anything, but God started putting that burden on my heart last fall.

So, life lesson number 1: Relationships matter everything. God’s core desire for us is to know Him and share our lives with people around us (see: Greatest Commandment). If those relationships aren’t at the core of what I’m doing, I’m not really in the game. This wasn’t really new to me, but the newness was an understanding and appreciation that God sets this as the top priority.

So, in October 2006 I started to move toward investing in relationships as a core focus. There are times when I’ve gotten off track and sat on the bench, forgetting how to play the game, but this new passion for relationships has been the basis for making the past year incredible. You’ll hear about some of these new relationships in future parts of this post.

What about you? Do you really let the value of relationships be the top priority in your life?

Do you have any advice for keeping this a core focus in your life?