Category Archives for "growth"

Renewal By Taking Time Off

“I’d like to dial it back 5% or 10% and try to have a vacation that’s not just e-mail with a view.”

Elon Musk

When was the last time you took a day off – or even a half day off – from work?

The time between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day can seem like a long stretch for many of us who don’t have company sponsored holidays during this time frame. We fall into a pattern of getting up early, heading to work (or possibly to our working space in our homes), grinding it out for 10-12 hours per day, and doing it all over again the next day. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

We begin to understand the mindset of a rat stuck in a wheel. We run and run. We rarely stop. We grow weary. We begin to take on characteristics like the zombies in The Walking Dead.

While the days are starting to get longer in the northern hemisphere, we still find ourselves deprived of the vitamin D available through exposure to natural sunlight. And the pandemic has only served to increase the problem as most of us have faced government recommended travel restrictions.

We need to take a break! We need a day off!

I took Friday afternoon off from work, and it was wonderful!

Part of my day included having a catch with Dan Reischel. (He is on a mission to have a catch with 162 different people over the course of this years baseball season – 162 Games of Catch. You can follow his journey on Facebook or Instagram.) I also stopped by a local McDonald’s to pick up my annual Shamrock Shake. I took some time to read and relax. And I naturally was sure to get some steps in with the sun over my head (many of my steps happen before the sun comes up each morning).

The afternoon off was just what I needed to renew my energy and zest for life and for work. I know I’m heading into a challenging week at work, and it’s good to go into it feeling revived.

In this year of renew, it’s important to take time off. In some cases, I’ll take a half day. Sometimes, I’ll take a whole day off. And I’m also planning to take a few weeks off later this year.

A vacation day gives us a chance to catch our breath, a chance to setup for the next challenges, and a chance to re-calibrate and renew.

If you haven’t taken a day off or even a few hours off recently, it might be time for you to block off some time on your calendar. It might be just what you need!

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV)

First Things First

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

As fathers, we can have a lot of things on our mind. Our list of responsibilities, priorities, and goals includes our career, our hobbies, our kids, and our marriage. Perhaps, we are also enamored by our favorite sports teams or sports stars.

Often our intention is to move forward, to get ahead, and to have some fun along the way. Honestly, these don’t sound like awful pursuits to me. Unfortunately, our focus on the above things sometimes causes us to lose focus on what really matters.

Jesus reminds us where are focus should be above everything else. He tells us to pursue His Kingdom first. He doesn’t give us an exact formula for what this looks like, but I think it’s safe to say we will get closer to understanding this the closer we get to Jesus. Reading God’s Word (the Bible) and studying the life of Jesus will lead us to prayer, to sharing our faith, and to serving others. And all these things will draw us closer to His Kingdom.

Jesus’ statement is also a promise that when we pursue His Kingdom first the rest will fall into place. When our focus is on Jesus and His Kingdom, the desires of our hearts more closely align with His desires, and these are the things that will be given to us as well.

Father, forgive me when I don’t make You and Your Kingdom my priority. I want to seek You, Lord, better today than yesterday.

Son Of A…

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

John 1:12 (NIV)

What was your father’s occupation? What was his father’s occupation?

My Dad was a pastor. His father was a mortician. My Mom’s father was a postman. My wife’s father was an instrumental music teacher and a church organist and music director.

It’s not uncommon to draw our identity from our fathers. For example, I’m a PK – a pastor’s kid. As a young teen, I’m not sure I was too proud of my Dad’s occupation. Now, I’m quite thankful to be a PK.

Drawing our identity from our fathers isn’t always a bad thing, but I think we need to be careful. Our fathers are flawed. Even my father, the pastor, was not the perfect father, and he will tell you that himself.

Some of us grew up with father’s who didn’t amount to much. Perhaps, they struggled with their own demons, or they may have been absent.

This is why it’s important to remember our true identity. As mentioned in John, we are children of God if we simply believe in His Name. We are sons of the King.

Heavenly Father, thank you for our earthly fathers imperfections and all. Thank you for calling us your children. May we represent you well as we go into the world today.

Renewal Through Trying Something New

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Walt Disney

It’s easy to find ourselves in a rut or a routine that lulls us into an boring, mind-numbing existence. We find ourselves committed to our work and to our responsibilities at home. Then out of pure exhaustion, lack of energy, and simple laziness, we find ourselves falling into patterns that only drive us deeper into our ruts and routines. For me, this is the television. I often find myself collapsing on the couch after dinner and a busy day at work – perhaps looking for an escape for an hour before I head up to bed and do it all over again the next day.

We need a catalyst – an outside force – to wake us up from our zombie-like walk through life. I’ve discovered the catalyst we need is to simply try something new. The fifth challenge of the 7 Week Stretch Challenge is to “Try Something New.” Doing new things – something different – is a great way to stretch our minds and bodies and to jar us out of our ruts and routines. (To sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge click HERE.)

I was recently reminded of this important truth when a friend invited me to a new platform called Clubhouse. It hasn’t been fully opened to the public yet, but I hear that it’s coming. I’m still learning about Clubhouse, but from what I have experienced so far it’s a new way of connecting and learning. Yesterday, I jumped into my first “room” led by Cliff Ravenscraft. It was truly exciting to meet new people and to see how Clubhouse works. I’ve already begun dreaming about how I might be able to use this platform to follow some of my passion areas like coaching young engineers, mentoring husbands and fathers, and helping other people succeed.

In this year of renew, it’s important for us to explore and open our eyes to new things around us. Drive a new way home from work tomorrow. Cook a new recipe for dinner sometime this week. Read a new book this month. Visit a new place this year.

What is one NEW thing you plan to try this week?

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Renewal Through A Quiet Place And Rest

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Jesus – Mark 6:31 (NIV)

Is it just me or does life seem to be adding more noise to your life? Does it feel like all your energy is depleted trying to keep up with the demands of work and perhaps the commitments outside of work?

Today, many Americans might describe their lives like a rat caught in a wheel – never stopping, always moving, going around in circles, wondering when it will stop, considering whether or not it’s worth it or not. The pressures we find ourselves in can seem unending. Work requires more of your time and attention. You are in an endless pursuit of more trying to keep up with those around you. You are trying to provide the very best for your family – best college experience, best home, best exposure to the world.

Soon the more, better, faster, wealthier, sooner, and so on becomes so normal that we don’t know how to stop. We don’t remember what it means to experience real quiet and real rest in our lives.

I know it is true for many of you, because it is true for me.

In my year of renew, this could be one of the most important revelations. In order to experience the renewal I truly need, I must learn to seek out quiet places in my life and to relearn how to rest.

I’m on the go. I operate on minimal (probably unhealthy) levels of sleep. When I do finally find a few minutes at the end of the day to sit down, I too often rely on the screen on the wall of my family room (the television) to provide a break. While this is okay in moderation, it is not really providing the renewal my mind and body need. I quickly fall asleep at night out of exhaustion, but I often find myself awake at two o’clock in the morning as my mind processes the events of the past day or tries to solve the challenges I know I will face in the day ahead. This kind of sleep is not restful.

This weekend, Leanne and I got away to a bed and breakfast in the Delaware Water Gap in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s just what I needed. It certainly is a quiet place. With over two feet of snow on the ground and no other places in site, it provided the perfect place to get away from the noise I typically face. It provided a place to rest – going to bed early, waking up late, and taking it easy for the first part of the day. I found rest.

I need to do this again!

Our reality doesn’t necessarily afford the opportunity to get away like this every weekend, so we must learn to find quiet places and rest in our every day. Here are some ideas to get you (and me) started:

  1. Turn off the notifications. You don’t need to know everything right away. In fact, many of the messages that pop up on our phones aren’t necessary. They only add to the noise in our lives.
  2. Get outside. Go for a walk. Sit on an outside bench. Do something that takes you away from the distractions of your devices or your chores at home. In a way, my daily steps discipline has often provided some of the quiet and rest I need every day.
  3. Schedule quiet and rest time on your calendar. If you are like me, my calendar is often filled by others demanding my time. In order to ensure I get some quiet time, I must learn to schedule it. I must also learn to take advantage of my out of office assistant that alerts others of my current unavailability. It’s okay, people can either wait for me to return or they can contact my delegate. Even a ten or fifteen minutes slot on your calendar for quietness or rest can make a huge difference in your ability to experience daily renewal.
  4. Find quiet and rest with someone else. A weekend away with your spouse or with a couple of friends can provide the refreshment and renewal you need and the connection you need with your spouse or friend. It doesn’t have to be a weekend or a long period of time. Invite a friend to go on a hike with you for an hour or two.
  5. Give yourself permission to take a break. It’s going to be okay. Your work, your commitments, and your responsibilities will be there when you get back. I’ve written about the importance of regular sabbaths before. You and I need regular sabbaths in our lives. The concept of sabbath was made for you and me to find the regular renewal we need. Learn to practice sabbath – hourly, daily, weekly – in your life. You deserve a break today!

Slow down. We are moving too fast. We’ve got to make our lives matter. We were meant for so much more than the noise and exhaustion we have come to know in our lives. We were meant for opportunities to find a quiet place, to find rest, to find connection with others and with our God.

Go find a quiet place and discover rest!

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”

Ovid

Renewal Through The Help Of Others

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.

W. H. Auden

Thursday didn’t start out quite the way I had planned. I’ll spare you all the details. The abbreviated version of the story has me checking myself into the emergency room at a local hospital around 8:30 in the morning. I ended up being discharged from the hospital around 2:00 in the afternoon after receiving help from a wonderful hospital staff. I’m still recovering to a degree; my visit to the hospital was rather minor compared to some of the other people I was hearing about who came into the emergency room that morning. I understand someone was having a stroke, and someone else was having a cardiac event. Again, my reason for going to the hospital was rather minor compared to the reason others visits. Nonetheless, I had no other choice but to visit the hospital based on what I was experiencing at the time.

As news of my emergency room visit spread to family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, I quickly learned of people praying for me, of people helping Leanne as she taught her classroom from home and tried to figure out how to get to the hospital, and of people taking on my workload at the office while I laid in a hospital bed. I even had a group of friends graciously offer to donate steps to me to ensure my 10,000 steps a day walking streak continued (somehow I’ve been able to keep the streak alive despite a visit to the hospital).

I could tell you many other ways we received help on Thursday – a neighbor’s offer to shovel my snow for the rest of the winter, multiple neighbors’ efforts to find my keys that had somehow fallen out of my coat pocket as I shoveled earlier that morning, and multiple neighbors’ generous gift of a dinner certificate for a local pizza restaurant. I even heard that one of the neighbor boys had his entire fourth grade class praying for me on Thursday morning.

Despite a hospital visit and a medical issue which will require some follow-up and recovery, I find a sense of renewal. My energy is still low, and yet, I feel uplifted knowing there are so many people who care for me and my family. I also find renewal knowing I have a God who brings me help.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121 (NIV)

I don’t know what is going on in your world today, but I’d encourage you to look up and to look around you. Find God’s help along your path. Look for those who are doing good things for you and for others in your community. Be renewed as you witness the helping hand, the caring touch, and the thoughtful word or prayer that others have to give.

Renewal Through An Honest Look At My Work

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered if you are doing the right thing when it comes to your job?

Maybe you simply like to do new things every once in a while, so you raise your hand and pursue new opportunities on a regular basis. Or perhaps, you are like me; you find a lane and you stick to it for a long time.

Last month, I celebrated my 25th anniversary at my company. In May of this year, I will officially be working in my industry for 27 years. My roles have changed over the years as I’ve grown through my experience and as the right opportunities have opened up for me. I started in more of an engineering and field technician role. After a few years, I moved into more of an project management and engineering role. Around the time I completed my MBA, I moved from a project management role to a people management role. Today, I find myself in charge of a large team with large revenue expectations. Perhaps, it is the increased stress and pressure I have felt in my role recently, or perhaps, it is simply the time of my life where I find myself asking the question above wondering if I am doing the right thing when it comes to my job.

On Friday morning, I had an important conversation with a couple of my friends. I shared with them my recent questioning, and I talked to them about my desire to find joy and significance in what I do for my career. At the age of 49, I still have very productive years ahead of me. I want to do work that matters. I want to leave a legacy. I don’t want to waste my time or my working energy by doing something that is insignificant and life-taking. One of my friends suggested I read Half Time – Moving From Success to Significance by Bob Buford. Without wasting any time, I downloaded the Audible version of the book. I’ve been listening, and I’m already learning – stretching.

In Half Time, Buford offers 13 questions worth considering as we consider how to make the most of our “Second Half”. I wanted to share them with you here. I’m still reflecting and figuring out my own answers to these questions, but I thought they might help you as well.

13 Questions (From Bob Buford) For Having A Significant Second Half

  1. Am I missing anything in my life right now that is important to me?
  2. What am I passionate about?
  3. Who am I?
  4. What do I value?
  5. What do I want to be doing in 10 years?
  6. What do I want to be doing in 20 years?
  7. What gifts has God given me that have been perfected over time?
  8. What gifts has God given me that I have been unable to use?
  9. What would I be willing to die for?
  10. What is it about my job that makes me feel trapped?
  11. What realistic changes can I make in my employment?
  12. Would I be willing to take a less stressful and lower paying job to be happier – to be closer to my true self?
  13. What steps do I need to take tomorrow to have a second half that is better than my first half?

These are powerful and challenging questions. If you are like me, I’d suggest you find time to seriously consider your answers to each of these questions. If you are married, share the questions and your answers with your spouse. If possible, find a close friend or two with whom you can share your answers. I don’t believe these questions should be answered quickly. I think it will take time, reflection, revision, guidance, and prayer.

As I move through this year of renew, finding renewal in my work is extremely important to me. I recognize that work may not always be fun, but I also don’t believe it is meant to be a death sentence. Fulfillment in our work is possible. Significance in our work if achievable. Purpose in our work is important.

God, renew my sense of fulfillment, my sense of purpose, and my sense of significance in my work. Give me wisdom, and guide me as I seek to honor you through my work.

Renewed Through Financial Housekeeping

The thing I have discovered about working with personal finance is that the good news is that it is not rocket science. Personal finance is about 80 percent behavior. It is only about 20 percent head knowledge.

Dave Ramsey

In this year of renew, I am focused on doing some financial housekeeping. Leanne and I do not have any consumer debt, but we do owe on our house. For the longest time, I have been the one who has handled the finances. I love numbers which has helped in this regard. Having said this, Leanne and I both agreed it was time for Leanne to get up to speed on our finances.

We are crossing into new territory in our lives as we prepare to launch our youngest out of college (we only have to pay for two more semesters). We moved this summer into a smaller home with a smaller mortgage. At the end of the year, I will be turning 50. I believe I still have very productive years ahead of me, but I also recognize I may want to direct my working attention elsewhere at some point with a possible early “retirement” from Siemens. This is the time to start making plans and to consider what steps we may need to take financially to ensure we are ready for these changes.

Over the last year or two, we have simply allowed our finances to coast. Thankfully, we had set many things in place to prevent us from calamity, but we also realized it was time to be more intentional. To help us in our focus, we decided to sign up for Financial Peace University at our church. We have been Dave Ramsey followers for a while, but this course is taking us from doing “Dave-ish” (this is when you only partially follow Dave’s teaching) to jumping on board more fully. After three weeks in the class, we can already see a big difference. We are working together on our budget. We are firming up our fully funded emergency fund. And we are making plans to firm up our savings (both retirement and non-retirement) while aggressively paying off our mortgage.

Regardless of your financial situation, it is always a good time to do financial housekeeping. If you are married, this is a great way to get on the same page and to solidify your relationship. If you are single, you may want to seek out some accountability and assistance to get you focused and moving in the right direction.

Here are Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps for Achieving Financial Peace:

  1. Save $1,000 in a beginner emergency fund.
  2. Pay off all debt (except the house) using the debt snowball.
  3. Put 3-6 months of expenses in savings. This is your fully funded emergency fund.
  4. Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans.
  5. Save for your children’s college education using tax-favored plans.
  6. Pay off the house early.
  7. Build wealth and give.

Ramsey’s plan makes sense when you look at it. He encourages his followers to take it one step at a time allowing yourself to see progress and to gain momentum. Because of our station in life, I can see us making it to Baby Step 6 and 7 fairly quickly. For others, it may take a little more time.

For Leanne and me, our next steps include connecting with a financial advisor to help us plan and prepare for Baby Step 7, retirement, and beyond. We are also in the process of making sure Leanne is in the know on everything related to our finances – account numbers, account values, account contacts, etc. I am excited for this financial housekeeping we are doing, and I’m excited to see the progress we are making.

I want to be a good steward of the resources God has given us, and financial housekeeping is part of the stewardship process. Dave Ramsey isn’t the only solid biblical-based financial expert out there, but I have seen how his program and system works. Don’t let your finances operate on coast mode; get the help you need and intentionally move forward.

What is the next financial housekeeping step you need to take? What’s holding you back?

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

Here are some resources to help you out in this area:

Renewed Through Healthy Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Will Durant

For those of you keeping track, I surpassed 1,000 days in a row of 10,000 or more steps last Friday. Almost three years ago, I made the decision to walk or run at least 10,000 steps every day as monitored by my Fitbit.

I work in a job that has me sitting at my desk or at a conference table for much of my days. This means I am more sedentary than is healthy. (The American Heart Association says that 10,000 steps a day is a good minimum for those interested in maintaining a healthy heart. Here’s a great article to give you more information – click here.)

10,000 steps means I am moving over 6 miles every day. I typically get these steps walking early in the morning. Several of my steps come from my treadmill activity at my local Orange Theory Fitness studio. And sometimes, I have to throw on my shoes to venture outside for a late night walk to ensure I make my goal.

Over the past 1,000+ days, I’ve walked in France, Germany, Guatemala, and the United States. I’ve walked in Washington state, Arizona, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. I’ve walked in airports, grocery stores, shopping malls, hardware stores, and colleges. I’ve hiked in the Cascade Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Green Lane Park, Spring Mountain, and countless other trails.

I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m guessing I’ve walked, hiked, or run over 7,000 miles during this walking streak. I don’t plan on stopping.

I want to live a life that goes the distance. This means it is important to establish and maintain healthy habits. In my year of renew, I’ve renewed my focus on some healthy habits – continuing my stepping streak, drinking more water, drinking less alcohol, and eating with more healthy intention. I’ve already seen the difference that these habits have had on my life. I’ve lost some weight. I feel more energy and focus. I sense a renewed sense of purpose.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)

As we approach the end of January, it is not uncommon for people to lose focus on the habits and goals they set at the beginning of the year. I encourage you to keep going. Take it one day at a time – even one step at a time.

A daily step streak doesn’t happen all at once. It happens one step at a time.

You can do it! Start today! Find some accountability (maybe it’s me). Take time each day to find renewal through healthy habits.

What is one of your healthy habits that has helped you find renewal? What healthy habit do you need to start today? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Renew

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

I’m part of a group of men who are committed to meeting together every week for 20 years. We are over six years into that commitment. Each year at this time, each man in this group chooses a word of the year that represents their intention and hope for the year ahead.

Picking a word of the year can be an excellent way to strategically approach your life. A word of the year can clarify your purpose and direction. The word of the year when shared with others can provide an opportunity for accountability.

Yesterday, I met with the group of men I mentioned above. As we spent time together, each man had the opportunity to share a recap on their 2020 experience, and each man then shared their word for 2021 along with their reason for selecting that word.

When I initially shared my word for 2021, I shared the word reset. After feeling like much of my year was reactive in nature in part due to the pandemic, I explained that I wanted to reset – to be more proactive in my approach to life in 2021. One of the men kept confusing my word reset with the word renew.

After further thought and prayer, I decided to change my word for 2021 to renew. I think it fits much better with my intention for 2021.

renew

verb (used with object)

1. to begin or take up again, as an acquaintance, a conversation, etc.; resume.

2. to make effective for an additional period: to renew a lease.

3. to restore or replenish: to renew a stock of goods.

4. to make, say, or do again.

verb (used without object)

1. to begin again; recommence.

2. to renew a lease, note, etc.

Dictionary.com

2021 will be a year with many milestones in my life:

  • January 8th – I will celebrate 25 years with Siemens.
  • January 15th – I will celebrate 1000 days in a row with 10,000 or more steps each day.
  • July 13th – Leanne and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage.
  • December 8th – I will celebrate my 50th birthday.

I don’t want to move about 2021 aimlessly. I want 2021 to be intentional. As I consider where I want to see renewal, I think of several areas of my life:

  • I want to renew my sense of purpose and calling to my job. I have a tremendous opportunity at Siemens to help our customers with building solutions, and I have an important opportunity at Siemens to lead and serve my team. I want to do this with renews vigor and focus in 2021.
  • I want to renew my commitment to personal health through healthy eating and regular and focused exercise.
  • I want to renew by marriage and my relationship with my bride. I am so blessed to be married to Leanne. Marriage takes work and focus on a daily basis. This year we plan to renew our vows as we celebrate our 25th anniversary.
  • I want to renew my commitment to stretching, learning, and growing. Reading, listening, and writing are three keys to finding renewal in this area.
  • I want to renew my relationship with God on a daily basis. Last but not least, this is important to my year of renewal. Romans 12:2 above states it very well. Renewal through God will lead to the transformation that is worth it!

If you’d like help selecting your word for 2021, I’d recommend picking up a copy of One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. In One Word, you’ll gain a very simple understanding and method for picking your One Word for 2021. Simply put, here is their method:

  1. Prepare your heart by looking in.
  2. Discover your word by looking up.
  3. Live your word by looking out.

What is your word for 2021? Where do you need renewal in your life? What is one step you will take this week towards your word or towards personal renewal?