Soul Mate

Knocked out with a bad cold all I could do was lay around in bed for a couple days. Sleeping was priority, but aches and chills sometimes kept me awake just trying to stay as comfortable as possible. What’s great for laying around in bed? A MOVIE!

I popped in one of my favorite movies of all time, Good Will Hunting. There’s a lot about the movie that I love. Casting, storyline, writing, soundtrack selection, it’s all well done. Of the casting I think Robin Williams does an amazing job. As I watched him deliver his award-winning performance, I thought of some of the other movies that I really enjoyed watching him in. His death was a blow to the world of entertainment. What was going on when he decided to take his life? What was he thinking? Just as my thoughts took me there, he entered into this dialogue:

Sean: Do you have a soul mate?

Will: Define that.

Sean: Somebody who challenges you…someone who opens up things for you – touches your soul.

Reading on the life of Robin Williams, he had his personal struggles. Drug addiction and other personal issues. Behind the laughter, there was much more going on. Apparently, after his death they discovered an onset of early dementia that was misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. In the months leading up to his death people around him said he was struggling with depression.

We can only speculate what the exact reason was for his actions. We’ll never know. It does leave me wanting to ask him a question: “Do you have a soul mate, Mr Williams? Somebody who challenges you, someone who opens things up for you, touches your soul?”

It would seem friends were not hard to come by. He had a wife and family. I wonder though, with so many people around him, if he had anyone that really “touched his soul”.

With Christmas around the corner there is this magical feeling that comes through all the festivities. Despite what many believe, the holiday season does not bring more suicides and depression. Perhaps it’s because the Christmas season is like being in a movie. There are friends and family all around us and we are all joyful and friendly. Then the month tick past, decorations come down, back to reality and we might discover, you’re all alone. That discovery can be crushing.

As far as soul mates go, we all have one, Jesus Christ, the creator of our souls. In scripture, He does talk about the importance of true friends.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This holiday season I wish you festive celebrations with family and friends. I pray that you will know your Soul Mate that was from the beginning of all things. I hope you discover that person or those people that will walk closely by your side throughout the year. That person who challenges you, opens you up and touches your soul. We are all searching for that person, even if we don’t realize it. -jason



Thankful in All Things

“What are you thankful for today?” I will ask this question occasionally when I put the kids to bed. Most often the response would be the things that you most expect from children. Family, friends, teachers, school, toys, candy, etc. As adults, our response are probably just grown up versions of those same things. Family, friends, job, money, a place to live, food to eat, etc. These are all good things.

Almost two decades ago I ended a significant relationship. It was a tough thing to go through, but I am thankful for the experience. Looking back there was a lot of maturing I needed to do (still need to do!) and it all prepared me for the wonderful woman that God had waiting for me to marry and start a family with. I believe it has helped to make me a better man and husband for Emily.

Losing my job was a tough thing to go through. It was a wound on my pride, financially it set us back and it left me with many challenging emotions. As I sit here today I am thankful for the opportunity I had in the time I was there. I am thankful for the insights I developed on leadership, organizations and the church. I believe these will help me be a better leader in the future. Finances are still tight, but I am thankful that the Lord always provides and that we can find joy and thanksgiving in a few extra dollars. Emotions are still being dealt with, but I am thankful for them because it has allowed me to relate with others and connect in ways I wouldn’t have before.

Being thankful for the things we can justifiably be lamenting over is a healing process and a joy booster. It’s a perspective shift that will set you on a better path in life.

This Thursday as we think about all the things we are thankful for, might we consider the trials and challenges we face as well as the blessings and abundances? Reflect on the challenges of your life, past and current. How the trials and challenges are a part of the process in the person you have become or you are becoming? How have or will these things lead to something greater? Be thankful in all things. Happy Thanksgiving! -jason

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Stuck in YOUR Ways

If you have ever been to our property you would have seen all the different kinds of trees growing in my father’s yard. One thing that stood out to many was the Pele’s Hair (or Spanish Moss) that draped down several feet from the tree tops to the ground. It was a curtain of decor that ranged from eerie to mysterious.  After being there for a long time, the winds finally got the best of it and many of those plants fell down and died leaving old 2X4’s strung across four different trees.

Two of those trees began to rot, we finally needed to remove them. The first tree fell over pretty quickly when I removed the boards that were holding it up. As I moved along to the other trees it became more challenging. The thick gauged wire was now IN the tree!

As I stood atop the 12 foot ladder, I imagined that this set up was rigged years ago when a ladder was’t required. As the tree grew taller and taller, it took the rigging up with it. As the tree got bigger and bigger, the tree grew around the thick metal wire and made it a part of it. Many of the wires could not be removed.

My friend walked by with his son and I began reflecting on the parallels of parenting with him. I wonder about the things I will “attach” to my kids. Things that I might even think are beautiful and decorative. Things that may seem good at the time. How will it become a part of them as they grow?

Well, when they are grown, it becomes much more difficult. When they are grown you may not be able to remove those things, just as many of those wires still remain in the tree. Just as the tree has grown, your child may be out of your reach.

Proverbs 22:6 teaches, “Train a child up in the way he should go, when he is older he will not depart from it.”

This is not meant to strike fear in parenting and I for sure do not have all the answers. Perhaps when you talk to seasoned parents you might ask them how they tended the “trees” in their yard. What would they have done differently and how have their teachings stuck with their kids over the years? What were the important things to have stick with them, and what could have been left to their own discovery and growth? In what ways should we avoid adding beauty and allowing the tree to grow into the beauty that it was meant to be? As a society we must teach our children and they are sponges ready to absorb everything. Parents and influential adults in the “tribe”. Teach the things you do not want them to depart from, the things that will embed into their lives as they grow. Not only what you say, but they watch what you do. Are your actions the actions you want your kids to display? Your children have a high probability to be stuck in YOUR ways as they grow taller and further out of reach. -jason


Organized Stress

For the last few years we have been functioning pretty day-to-day. Meal planning often got overlooked in the daily grind and at many days at 5pm we were scrambling to come up with something for dinner. Sometimes that frantic search for dinner revealed that we desperately needed to go grocery shopping.

Household chores became slightly chaotic too. The kids would ask to switch chores and we weren’t sure who was going to do what chore which week. Again, in the daily busyness chores got forgotten and one forgotten day would lead to a week of forgetting they had chores.

Life is just full. When life is full, things get forgotten, neglected and stress rises.

This year with job changes, homeschool and other transitions, I told Emily I would do some meal planning and chore assignments. So, at the prompting of a friend, here’s what I came up with:

Meals: I look for fairly simple recipes, is a great resource. Look for ones you can prep the night before. Slow cooker recipes are ideal.

Use Word or another program with a calendar template to list out your recipes. It helps to see it down so you can rearrange meals according to what might be happening that day. For example, We have violin and Awanas back to back. Slow cooker meals are going to be the best for those days so we can eat quickly before we head out.

From those recipes I create my shopping list. I print out each recipe ( formats them nicely for printing) and I print out the shopping list. Sunday after church we go grocery shopping for the week.

Some recipes make the cut, others get thrown out. Surprisingly, our kids loved the stuffed bell peppers. The stew recipe, not so much. I’ll keep the recipes we like in one pile and discard the ones we didn’t care for. So far, it’s working well.

Chores: It worked out that with five family members and five days in the week we are able to make a nice rotation with five daily tasks. Attached is the chore chart I created for us to follow daily.

Weekly Chore Chart

These chores are not chores to earn money. They are responsibilities of the household that we just do as community contributors.

As you can see these are basic chores and there are many more things that need to be done. We have told the kids that there might be extra work that we will pay them for if their daily chores are done and we need extra help. For example, Aubrey earned two dollars last weekend for bathing Henry, our dog.

In making a chart, keep it simple. You want to just get the kids in the habit of daily responsibilities. For example, Bathroom is just wiping down bathroom sinks and picking dirty laundry off the ground. You’d be surprised how a small thing like wiping down the bathroom sinks makes a big difference in stress levels.

Again, we are just a couple weeks into it. Hopefully we can maintain this momentum. Organization and order can sometimes be too rigid, but when used properly it can relieve stress and ease your mind in the daily grind. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it should fit your life and schedule. Planning and having schedules will not eliminate your responsibilities, but it may organize your stress and making it easier to cope with day-to-day living.  -jason