Redeeming Your Time in the School Car Line

School started back in our county yesterday, August 17.  My son gets out of school at 2:50 pm.  I was in the School Car Line to pick him up for 35 minutes.  Wait times are customary in the mornings and afternoons.  It’s something we all build into our schedules.  This year, our district changed the school start and end time so that our elementary, middle, and high schools have a staggered start time.  My son has to be at school by 7:50 while my daughters start time is 8:45.  We live 1 mile from my son’s school and 3 miles from my daughters’ school so our wake up times are all different.  In the month leading up to this I started making some changes in how I used and viewed social media and moving from reacting to reflecting.  I knew I did not want to spend the time in the car line mindlessly scrolling a news feed.  I also need that I would have 15 minutes here and there in the morning that I didn’t want to waste.  Here are some things I’m trying this year and I hope they will help you in redeeming your time in the school car line.

  1.  From 6-6:40 am I am waking up and doing my devotions and praying.  Right now I’m using the book The Rhythm of Prayer: a forty day experience by Mark Moore as a prayer guide and Walking with Wesley: A Ninety-Day Devotional by Nick Harrison.
  2. 6:40 am is wake up time for my son, Drake, and I will spend 10-15 minutes managing emails after waking him up.  This is mainly deleting and unsubscribing from email lists.  I’m not really mentally processing things at this time.  I’m just trying to reduce digital clutter.
  3. After I double-check to make sure Drake is up and getting ready I will have 10-15 more minutes before we leave.  This offers a chance to give a quick glance to some news sites and ESPN.com or even do some Fantasy Football team management.
  4. After taking Drake to school at 7:20 I will have 1 or maybe 2 more 15 minute time slots while getting the girls ready for school and then I’m home from taking them at 8:20 and the day is off and running.
  5. For the afternoons I have decided to not go so early to pick up Drake.  This will cut my line wait time from 35 minutes to hopefully 10 or less.  I’ve placed a devotional book in the console of the van so that I’m not tempted to let that time slip by.  Whose mind doesn’t need a refresher and reminder at that point in the day?
  6. If the wait is longer I can catch up with folks on the phone, do a calendar review, or make a Facebook live video.  I did several last year called the Car Line Diaries just as a way to encourage folks and share things that have been going on with my family.  I can also use this time to rehearse my sermon.

The point of this is not for you to copy what I am doing.  Your family and routine are totally different from mine.  What I hope we can all start doing is making the most of these little bits of time that we’ve started sacrificing at the altar of the mindless phone scroll.  What are the tasks we can do that “clear the deck” and make our days easier later on?  What are the quick decisions and actions we can take to relieve our minds from unneeded stress?  How can we use these times to renew our minds and allow God to speak into our hearts and lives?  I’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing for Redeeming Your Time in the School Car Line.  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter or by leaving a comment below.

Moving from Reacting to Reflecting

Social Media's effect on our thinking

Think about this.  All recorded history and facts are at our fingertips.  No longer do we have to wonder “what year did that happen”, “what’s the RBI record for 2nd basemen in odd number years”, or “what movie was that guy in?”  With a few clicks, the answer can be ours.  The same goes with social media.  No longer do people have to wait to know how we feel about something.  We can either post our thoughts or react(like, heart, smiley face, shocked face, etc.) to the thoughts of others in an instant.  How many times have you been reading or thinking and something great pops in your mind or you see the perfect quote?  What is one to do?  Share it immediately of course!  In July, our family went to the beach.  I needed it.  I was burned out on a molecular and spiritual level(did I mention that studies have shown a link between depression and cell phone use).  I was excited to begin the habit of daily morning devotions and journaling(on the beach no less) and to delete Facebook and Twitter off of my phone.  An amazing thing happened.  The first day of devotions I came across a great quote from John Wesley’s writing and instinctively thought, “I’ve got to share this right now!”  The only problem was I had intentionally left my phone in the car plus…no Facebook or Twitter.  When the urge to post subsided my mind returned to the quote and I reflected on it more deeply than I’ve reflected on anything in a long time.  One thought led to another and soon I found myself lost in the moment, scribbling down my thoughts, and taken away by the Holy Spirit to a place I had not been in a long time.  It was a euphoric feeling.  I continued my morning reading and praying and at the end I just sat and took it all in.  It hit me.  How many times has God given me(or you) a great thought and once we have shared it on social media that’s it.  We feel our work is done and the moment passes and that thought soon fades away except on the Wall of Facebook or the Timeline of Twitter.  I have tried to calculate how many hours(days, months!) that I have wasted on the scroll.  You know what I mean: the mindless social media scroll of thumbing down the page until something catches our eye and we either click our reaction or click on the article.  I have permanent tendonitis in my thumb.  I have encouraged my son to look into being a carpal tunnel surgeon.  Between video games, keyboards, and phones he would always have a line of patients.  What if, instead of going right to our phones to find the answers, we took the time to think about it?  Of course, I’m not talking about if you need life saving medical advice or something like that.  What conversations and thoughts would be borne out of letting our minds search for…anything?  To fire back up those connections that have grown dormant?  What if, in the light of recent racial events in Charlottesville and other cities, I sought the Lord and let my mind consider all of these things instead of scrolling through to see what everyone else thought and reacting to it?  I’m not saying that there’s not a time and place to scroll through your social media feed, but we have gotten to the point where it’s our go to solution for any dead time in our day.

Now, I will add Twitter and Facebook to my phone when attending an event that I want to “report” on which is usually a church conference or a wrestling match.  Insert your joke here.  Most of the time though, I’m only getting on from my computer or iPad and only at the times I’ve set aside to do such.

I kept Instagram on my phone.  I have never struggled with it personally as far as getting lost in the scroll.  It allows me to post to Facebook and Twitter and now I will mark the quotes and scriptures I find in the morning for posting later.  I have also traded the screen for a book every night 30 minutes before I go to bed.  There’s been an amazing difference in my quality of sleep and sharpness of my dreams.  Here are some books that have really impacted me over the past month or so…and yes, I am reading more than I ever have before.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days

Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health

The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture(Hey, I didn’t say these were all serious books.)

The Quest for Holiness-From Shallow Belief to Mature Believer

Here are 3 suggestions I would make to move from reacting to reflecting

  1.  Take social media off of your phone if you can’t resist the urge to immediately post every good thought you have.
  2. Give yourself time(I prefer the mornings) to read, reflect and pray.  Get up early enough so time is not an issue and you don’t feel rushed.  Start writing down what you’re reading and the thoughts that come to your mind.  Feel free to share these later, but don’t lose the power of the moment to go deeper.
  3. Schedule scroll time.  Set aside 15 minutes(not right after you wake up, right before you go to bed, or during family time) to see what’s happening and when time’s up that’s it.

I hope to continue the daily of deeper reflection and thinking.  God continues to bring my mind back from a dark place of depression every single day.  The depression has always kept me from my best work including writing which I hope to remedy shortly.  Thanks for reading.  What’s been your experience with social media and smart phones?  How are you combating the pull to the mindless scroll?

The Devil is in the Distraction

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What’s distracting you?

Some people think that God set everything into motion and has been sitting back watching since Creation.  I don’t think that’s true. I think He is always active, always involved, and always engaged in what’s happening in the world.  People blame the devil for everything.  Dead car battery?  The devil.  Runny nose?  The devil

As a pastor, I get to see God transforming

Couch to 5k

I’m running the Foothills 5k in May 2012.

Last year, I ran in the Foothills 5k that supports the Foothills Pregnancy Care Center.  Oakway United is a sponsor of the event and this year we are fielding a 12 person team.  Last year my time was around 45 minutes and my goal is to break the 30 minute mark this year.  I started training last year, but suffered an injury early on so I was pretty much running cold turkey.  I’ve been training for the past 2 weeks using the couch to 5k program.  There are lots of resources there and my favorite has been the Robert Ullrey’s podcast.  There are 9 podcasts

Procrastination Elimination

Last Sunday, Oakway United started a new sermon series entitled “One Day…Some Day.”  This was inspired by a blog post from Pastor Steven Furtick.  For week 1, New Year’s Day, the topic was procrastination elimination.  As a rural pastor, one of my goals is help people achieve their God given dreams.  Here are some great quotes I found on procrastination elimination:

“Until you value yourself,

The Rules of Encouragment

Recently, I released a video on youtube outlining the last few years of my life.  I talked about overcoming self doubt and the people who have helped me get to where I am today.  I also laid out an 80 day challenge to exercise daily to become wholly and holy healthy.  The video is around 15 minutes long and I made it for 2 reasons:

Accountability and Weigh In #1

Which way are you going?

Last week I posted about our new Accountability Group.  I heard a guy say last month that people who publicily announce their goals seldom reach them because talking about it makes them feel good enough not to follow through.  Here’s the low down:

1.  I’ve been reading James 1 this week, over and over. Here’s James 1: 2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

This has been a week of trials.  I awoke Monday morning to discover that my other blog had been hacked.  I hadn’t backed up my data in a while so it appears I will have to start from scratch.  This was a set back because of the time it took to secure that site and all the others I am hosting.  I am finding that the things you haven’t budgeting time for are the things that take the most time.  The trials of this week follow a great Sunday at Oakway Wesleyan and an amazing Trunk or Treat on Sunday night.  We partnered with two other local churches to minister to 2,000 people with 53 cars supplying the candy.  What a great night!  I should have expected Satan to come at me hard this week.  I am sad to report the following.

2.  My diet has been horrible this week.  Too much fast food and more soda in this one week than the entire past year combined(consider that I gave it up last year).  My weight stands at 205 and I did zero walking this week.  I could make excuses all day long.  I am not discouraged because through it all God has been with me and I know he want me to be “mature and complete.”

3.  Date night this weekend with my wife.  Excited to spend some time with her!

4.  Sabbath on Saturday.  This will include cutting the grass which means listening to some of my favorite worship music and podcasts.  A welcome break from the typical day.  Is it weird that I love cutting the grass(and folding laundry)?  What’s wrong with me?

5.  I got a lot of church work done.  Finished some down the road sermon preparation and upgraded the website.  I am also looking forward to our partnership with Dot’s Kitchen, a local soup kitchen.  We will be using the church van to pick up people in the community who need a hot meal, but have no way to get to Dot’s

There were parts of this week where I felt victorious and others where I felt defeated.  I’m gonna to enjoy my Sabbath and date night tomorrow and get rested up for Sunday.  Tomorrow is a new day full of amazing possibilities.  How about you?  Did you exercise consistently this week?  What about your diet?  Did you spend quality time in God’s word and have a day of rest?  We’re all in this together.