Life is moving at warp speed. Information overload is our new daily normal; “adapt and pivot” is the catch phrase of 2020. In the midst of this, the effects of “hurriedness” have been on my heart as I seek to love God and lead others well.
Recently, I was encouraged to step away from the office for a couple of days and participate in the Global Leadership Summit (GLS). At the GLS, world class authors, pastors, and Christian leaders instruct and inspire Jesus-loving women and men. It’s no surprise then, that the speaker who focused on pace – the speed in which we travel through life – resonated deeply and continues to inspire and challenge me.
Pastor Michael Todd spoke with power and transparency on The Pace of Leadership. Pastor Todd began with a simple but profound statement of truth: Jesus accomplished world changing ministry in 3 years, and Jesus was never hurried. Let that sink in for just a minute. In scripture Jesus was never rushed, never short tempered with the hurt and broken, and never shackled to the demands of a calendar. Jesus always had time: the time to pray; the time to mentor, the time to heal, the time to be present and in the moment.
Maybe you are a little bit like me. In the midst of life’s crazy demands, it can be easy to get out of step, off pace, and hurried. A hurried pace is not healthy or sustainable long-term. Eventually, a hurried pace will sap our energy, steal our joy, and negatively impact how we treat the people we love the most. It can leave us emotionally numb, missing little life moments as they happen, and blind to the mini and major miracles that happen around us every day. This is not the pace that Jesus spoke of when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest” in Matthew 11.
Pastor Todd reminds us all that a healthy pace allows for productive work, passionate worship, and genuine rest. A healthy pace is sustainable long-term. It includes time for work AND family, ministry AND rest, recreation AND fun. It allows for margins in our life to enjoy the life we have now, in this moment, with these people. A healthy pace lets us slow down, declutter, and unschedule. It provides the opportunity to experience moments, make new memories and witness miracles that happen every day. A healthy pace. It’s radical. It’s counterculture. It’s exactly what Jesus did. Thanks Pastor Todd – that’s just the reminder and the challenge that I need.
Well, here we are. It’s the middle of July and we all are looking for creative, exciting, and safe things to pass the time. While 2020 is sure to be unforgettable, here are 16 ideas that you and the family can try out in the home stretch of our summer days…
Fun for the Family
- Family Game Night:Have a weekly game night and take turns choosing! The 2020 hit at the Wilson house is Taco, Cat. Goat, Cheese, Pizza – a card game for the adventurous! Think about a cross between uno and spoons with random charades mixed in 😊
- Family Movie on Friday Night:Show a movie on your biggest screen and make sure everyone has some popcorn or Rice Krispies Treats.
- Go to the drive-in:It’s date night in the car, and you can bring your own fantastic snacks. Bluegrass Iowa, Delmar Iowa, and Galesburg Illinois are 3 relatively close locations with drive-in theaters.
- Virtual Family Scavenger Hunt: Set up a Zoom meeting with friends and family near and far. Create a virtual scavenger hunt list (all things that should be found in the house), screen share the list, and GO! The first person to gather and display the items wins.
- Virtual would You Rather? Zoom or FaceTime the extended family and have conversations that will leave you laughing and shaking your head. Create your own questions or find some “family friendly” ones online.
- Camp out in your backyard: Pitch a tent in the backyard and enjoy clean and close bathrooms!
- Become a birdwatcher – It can be a fun hobby for kids of all ages. Go wild and get a bird feeder…it does help in attracting the birds!
- Take a Hike – Check out Centennial Park, Sunderbruch Park Trail, the Duck Creek Trail, Scott County Park or Wildcat Den State Park in Iowa. Go explore Sylvan Island, the Black Hawk Forrest, Illiniwek Forest Preserve, the Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, or the Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Illinois.
- Let’s have a picnic:Picnic or grill in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun. Go crazy and invite the neighbors to a “Front Yard Picnic” – then share smiles, eat food, and stay socially distanced too.
- Glow-in-the-dark treasure hunt: Nighttime treasure hunting with glow-in-the-dark items can be fun for the whole family
Making Fun Connections – “OLD SCHOOL STYLE”
- Make a phone call: Parents, grandparents, or a friend whose face you miss. It’s amazing what a difference hearing a friendly voice can make!
- Notes and Cards: Spelling doesn’t count – so grab a pen and some paper and get started. Make getting the mail the highlight of someone’s day.
- Bake and Take Day: Make a double batch of your favorite dinner, dessert, or batch of cookies. Keep half for yourself and bless a neighbor or a friend with the gift of prepared food. PS…Pregnancy Resources loves cookies 😊
- Question a day:If the grandparents live far away, let those grandbabies connect with an emailed, texted, or messaged question a day. It’s a great way to pass down generational stories and smiles at the same time.
Help out your “hood” – invest in those around you…
- Share the bounty – When you start to harvest your garden (everybody has one it seems) make sure to share your bounty with your neighbors, those single moms and dads you know, and the essential workers who didn’t have the opportunity to plant this year.
- Neighborhood cookout – Plan a neighborhood front yard gathering. Add music if you can. It is a great time to connect in a different way.
The cascading impact of Covid-19 is a shared reality, but a sometimes-unique experience. A mentor of mine recently posted these wise words from Pastor Sam Barbar offering unique historical insight worth consideration. I identify as a “near miss”. This virus has impacted people I know personally and care for deeply. I also hold very close to my heart the responsibility I carry as your Executive Director. It is my blessing to lead Pregnancy Resources in a manner that seeks to protect the health and well being of our clients, our partners, and our team members and honors our commitment to providing life-affirming help in moments of crisis. This has resulted in decisions that were sometimes difficult but necessary: how to serve clients well, how to safely perform center operations and provide services, how to guard the health and safety of our team members, and how to appropriately facilitate our 30th year Celebration Banquet to name just a few. As you read the words of Pastor Sam, know for certain that you are loved, you are respected, and, even when we don’t fully agree, you are a valuable part of the Pregnancy Resources Family.
A Canadian psychiatrist, J. T. MacCurdy, in his book The Structure of Morale, postulated that the British citizens under assault from the German Luftwaffe in World War 2 were sorted into three groups: those killed in the bombings; those who experienced “near misses;” and those who experienced “remote misses.”
“Near misses” were those who felt the bomb blasts, witnessed first-hand the carnage, yet survived. These people, as a result of their up-close experiences, became ultra-vigilant in their efforts to avoid being killed by the bombs.
“Remote misses” were those who heard the planes, saw a glow of explosion, but were too far away from the bombs to experience them up close. These people had quite a different view of the bombings. This group experienced a sense of euphoria that they seemed to be living “charmed” lives and developed a sense of invulnerability to the bombings. Some even chose to remain in London during the raids so that they wouldn’t miss out on all the excitement.
More than an intriguing history lesson or psychological observation; this phenomenon helps to explain much of the division in our country in these days over the stay-at-home type restrictions that are in place. I think that those who have not really been impacted by the virus have developed a “remote miss” kind of mentality that causes them to doubt the severity of the times. Those who have lost a loved one or themselves suffered with the virus have a more “near miss” kind of mentality, remaining vigilant in their handwashing and social distancing.
To date, I am a “remote miss” person. I know of people who have suffered, but no one very close to me has been infected. I confess to struggling at times with the question, “Is it really that bad?” I’m quite sure if I worked in a metropolitan emergency room or stood vigil beside the bed of a loved one, I would have a very different perspective.
Today I’m trying to let my personal thoughts and emotions be influenced by our common faith. I know all too well how I tend to respond, but I have chosen the way of Jesus and the way of Jesus is never only about me. The way of Jesus reminds me that redemption has always been expressed in love. Having chosen to follow Christ I am now shaped by Christ’s love. It is a self-sacrificing, others-first kind of love. It is this love that becomes the lens through which I view the present circumstance.
Christ’s love compels me to think of you before I think of me. It reminds me to hold in tension the extremes of being a germophobe and a libertarian. We are being asked to walk the tightrope between public health and the freedom to earn a living. These are complex circumstances, but the people of God are up to it. Guided by love, we can move cautiously ahead, testing the uncertain waters of relaxed restrictions while practicing the best of public health. It is this middle way approach that gives us opportunity to both relax and remain vigilant. It is love for both the physically vulnerable and the economically stranded.
Christ’s love is the means to the new normal of balance between public health and personal freedoms. Christian, you are equipped to move confidently into uncertainty, and you must lead the way. Let the love of Christ be your touchstone.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
I Peter: 1: 22-23, NIV