I am continuing my blogs this week about the lessons I have learned or am learning this summer.
Summer Lesson #3 – “We constantly need to be thinking about our perspective in life”
I am not sure that statement is as clear as I might like, so here is what I mean. This past week I went fishing a couple of times. One time I went with my boys and we caught 9 halibut. We were 3 shy of a limit and most were not very big. Not a great day, or so I thought, until I talked to a friend of mine who went out all day and caught nothing. On another trip I caught two salmon, that is 4 shy of a limit. Not a great day, or so I thought, until in the parking lot I was talking with 3 guys who caught nothing. In each of those cases my original perspective was that I had failed in my overall goal, then after one conversation my perspective changed and I thought of myself as a huge success.
This simple truth can apply to the Christian life and to Church. I sometimes get down on myself because it takes me 18 months to get through the entire Bible. Then I have to change my perspective and remind myself that just a few years ago I was not getting through the entire Bible regularly at all. Sometimes in Church I feel like we are not growing very fast and I get discouraged. Then I need to remind myself that we have had two conversions this year and that is reason to celebrate.
Here is a simple challenge. Take whatever negative thoughts you are currently thinking and try looking at them from a different perspective. Try to flip that negative into a positive. Sometimes our perspective on life can be the difference between having joy and being heartbroken.
I am writing about all of the things I have noticed this summer.
Summer Lesson #2 – Do your job well, no matter what you do.
While my parents were here Michelle and I had the chance to take a day away by ourselves. We took the day and drove up to Kenai and Soldotna for a day of shopping and sightseeing. When we arrived in Kenai we decided to stop at the Pizza Hut because they had a buffet. The place only had a few other tables and most of it was self-serve, but there was one waitress. She was a larger lady who worked here way from table to table trying to be helpful. When she came to our table we were very pleasantly surprised. She was happy without being giddy and was helpful without being pushy. She cleared our plates, she refilled our drinks and she smiled the whole time.
Now, I do not usually tip a waitress at a buffet since I serve myself, but I left her a tip. In a summer where I have received lousy service, my wife has been insulted and my family has been shocked at the way they were treated at times this lady came as a wonderful surprise. I am sure she doesn’t receive much pay to do what she does, but she does it in a way that is a blessing to all.
I wonder how much better place the world would be if we all just did our jobs well and without complaining. She sure made my lunch much better and maybe your life could make someone else’s day better too.
This week I want to post a series of lessons that I am learning this summer.
Summer Lesson #1 – Life is vastly different for locals than for guests
I was recently in the Fred Meyer store in Soldotna. I sat for a few minutes waiting on my family and noticed all of the visitors to Alaska. They were pretty easy to spot. Most of them had on T-shirts or sweatshirts from known local places like the “Salty Dog” or from the “Time Bandit” or one of a couple dozen other places. Most of them were drinking large Starbucks drinks. They need the caffeine to stay awake 18 hours a day. They also had this wide-eyed wonder about everything. They were talking about Alaska’s high prices on everything. They were pointing out items we sell in our stores that they do not have down below like stacks and stacks of fish shipping boxes.
Locals, on the other hand, have a different look about them. Some of it is the clothes, like xtratuff boots instead of Cabela’s brand. Mostly it is the overall demeanor of the people. Locals are getting fish for the freezer to cut the local high cost of living. Locals are in the store to get things done and get out. Locals are trying to conduct life without the chaos of all the guests getting in their way. There is a determined look about them.
Anyway, all of this got me thinking about Church. In Church there is a vast difference between members and guests. Guests come each week and take it all in with wide-eyed wonder. Members do the work on the stage, in the sound booth and in the classroom. Guests biggest concerns are about themselves. Members are concerned about others. Guests may or may not be back next week. Members will be here week after week.
Here is the problem that I see happening in many Churches. Too many people want to live their lives like guests and not like members. They want the thrill of being on vacation every week without the responsibility of ever being a local. Churches need people willing to put roots down and live their lives in community with others, just like towns. Churches are just like communities in that they need people whose hands are calloused from hard work and not soft from an endless vacation from responsibility.
That has me wondering – In your Church, do you act more like a local or a guest?
It has been quite a summer here in Alaska. The weather has been unbelievable. Each day has been sunny and clear with little rain any day. That alone has made for a great summer, but add in that Michelle’s mom came for a visit and then my parents came for over two weeks, and it has been awesome.
In the process of all of the visiting and sightseeing I was able to get a little needed rest along with time with the family. Now I am back in the office and trying to resume life as normal. This is extremely hard with another beautiful day outside. Oh well, I will be outside tonight as football is in high gear.
I guess I’ll sleep in the winter.
My parents are currently here from Indiana. I will be taking most of this week off and back to blogging again next week. I will be preaching a sermon on Sunday called “Cat & Dog Theology.” Have a great week and I will have lots to write later.
We have spent a large amount of time with my wife and I’s parents this summer. That has me thinking about grandparents and grandchildren his week. Yesterday I shared how to be a good grandparent. Today I want to share “How to be a good grandchild” but I know that no little kids read my blog. This blog post might be better titled “How to help your children appreciate their grandparents.”
1. Show physical affection. Grandparents love hugs and kisses from little boys and girls.
2. Say “I love you.” Grandparents and parents both want to hear those words regularly from their children – no matter how old.
3. Listen to their stories. Mom and dad may have heard the stories a thousand times, but your children may not have heard them. Let them tell those stories to a new audience of young people.
4. Ask them questions. Almost all older adults have volumes of knowledge, yet they feel no one cares. You ask them how to do something and they will draw out vast amounts of information. It will help you and it will make them feel utilized.
5. Let them have a break. I know grandparents love their grandchildren, but let them take a little nap without comment. Let their ears and bodies rest and they will feel better in the time you get together.
6. Parents need to step out of the way. Leave the grandparents alone with the kids so that they can spoil them. *Warning, only do this in limited amounts or you may experience and adverse reaction 🙂
I remind my kids all the time that they are not the center of the universe. I do not need to jump and do everything they want. They may not want to spend much time with their grandparents, but with a little coaching it can be a wonderful time for everyone!
My wonderful 78-year-old parents arrived at my house in Alaska yesterday after driving for 6 days up the Al-Can. It was great to see them and talk to them face to face after almost a 16 month absence. My boys were super excited to see them. My boys have had the wonderful opportunity to see all of their grandparents this summer. This has me reflecting a little about what it takes to be a great grandparent from a father’s perspective.
1. Bring gifts. Size and cost do not matter. My kids just want to know that their grandparents have been thinking about them.
2. Listen to them. Nothing makes young boys feel more loved than a grandparent taking the time to listen to their stories no matter how trivial.
3. Ask questions about their life. The boys want to share their life even the little things.
4. Watch them do something. No matter what a kid likes to do, he enjoys having a grandparent watch him or her. This can be a sport, a dance, a hobby or any random activity. Your attention is more important than the activity.
5. Join them in the fun (if you can). It creates a wonderful memory when a grandparent does something with their grandchildren.
6. Give them attention. I once had a conversation with a grandparent about his grandsons. He told me that he asked them why they liked grandpa so much. The youngest one spoke up and said “because you have time for us!” [That means, “Put the phone or electronic device down!”]
These are nothing profound or necessarily biblical. They are just my random observations that might help you to become a better grandparent. I know one day I hope to be the best!
It has been a busy week for the Harris family as I am sure it has been for many of you. Here is my rundown of the last few days:
The fourth of July my boys and I mowed a lawn to get them some extra cash. We followed that by walking in the local parade with the Pop Warner football group. It was a long day of work and worry.
Last Friday morning I was called at 4:00 am to collect a road-killed moose. It was a little one but still took a couple hours to process. Which was okay other than the fact that we loaded up at 8:30 am to take my mother-in-law to Anchorage to catch her flight home. Finally the day ended by going to Sports Authority and buying football stuff for my older two boys. Season starts in just a few weeks here in Alaska.
Saturday was spent mostly grocery shopping in Anchorage. I hate it, but with four boys and two of them being teenagers, my grocery bill is enormous. A stop at Costco can cost a whole paycheck:( We got home late Saturday and put everything away in time for bed.
Sunday was Church. I needed to get up early and do some serious review since I had not been in the office for several days. Sunday School went well and then the sermon went well. The overall program had some glitches but it was okay. It was a nice day. Low attendance but that was expected with the holiday. The rest of the day was spent mowing grass, weed-eating and cleaning house. And getting ready for today.
Today my parents will arrive at noon. They have driven up the Al-Can because my dad refuses to fly. We look forward to a couple weeks with them. Tonight will be great as they have not seen the boys in 16 months.
As you can see, I have had little time to relax with everything going on. It has been a pretty good summer so far. The weather has been great and we have had very little downtime.
My two lessons from life lately:
1) Enjoy your family. I like having company, but my family is where I feel the best. I enjoy them and look forward to all of our times together.
2) Sleep in the Winter. That is an expression you here in Alaska a great deal. The idea is simple, the summer is very short and you had better enjoy every minute of it. The reality is, Life is short. Live and enjoy every minute of it – even when it seems crazy busy!
A video was posted on Youtube in May but I just recently saw it. It is called “It’s not about the nail.” It is funny and cute but it is also insightful into men and women and their communication. Enjoy.
This past Sunday I finished an 8 week sermon series entitled “Six Word Memoirs.” I thought the series went great. Several people willing shared their six word memoir and I listed them in the program yesterday. Here is what the members of Homer Christian Church had to write:
Did my best with no regrets
Tried his best, forgive the rest
Incredibly blessed, powerfully partnered, amazing adventure
Accepted in Christ, opportunity in life
Come on, it will be fun
Ripe old age, satisfied with life
Love life, Love Jesus, Love work
Never Fails, the Lord will provide
One of God’s beloved, blood-bought children
Christ’s love for me for eternity
Be a decent respected Godly man
Bring joy to other people’s lives
I Struggled in Family & God
Lived for joy: Jesus, others, yourself
Grace received is grace to give
Bless the Lord, Oh my soul
Continually learning to live for God
Lots of failures, but always grace
Never should have opened my mouth
I should’ve tried a little harder
Why did I even say that?
Should have listened to my parents
Thanks for everyone who wrote these – including my 4 boys who wrote the last four 🙂