time for each other

Several years ago some dear friends encouraged Laura and I to have a weekly time with each other when we can really talk and share important things.  It’s been so helpful.  But in the past few months we haven’t been making it happen.  One of our resolutions is to re-establish this time together.  With kids, work, and activities, there is always one more thing we “need” to do.  Always one more thing to squeeze into the schedule.  But this is something we love and we feel we just can’t do without.

Our friends P & K also do this, and they have really encouraged us.  Tonight we sat in their kitchen talking about this, and we identified seven things which have made these “marriage meetings” valuable: 1) calendar coordination, 2) parenting plans, 3) express appreciation and affirmation, 4) positively share needs and difficult issues, 5) financial update, 6) share what we are learning, and 7) pray together.  I guess there are 3-4 of these that we make sure we always cover. 

“They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days.  They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always.  They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even–for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health–when they don’t feel like it at all.  In other words, the vows they make at a marriage could hardly be more extravagant.”  -F. Buechner

In life

From what I understand the Hungarian and Croatian words for “enjoy” are quite similar in idea, that is, they both literally mean, “to be in life.”  Our boys, like all children, seem to have a special talent for being “in life.”  They laugh, they cry, they run, they fall, they jump, and they play.  They’ve been teaching me a couple things lately.

Break the Silence:  Nathan (3) loves to randomly tell his mother, “Mommy, you’re so beautiful!”  Everything stops for a moment, and we see that mom is really here with us…and she’s beautiful.  It occurs to me that we can use many words but easily be silent in things that matter most.  Breaking this silence ushers us back into life.

Willingness to Ask:  Jacob (4) loves to get on the floor and wrestle with me.  A time comes almost everyday when his eyes light up, and he asks, “Dad, can we wrestle now!?”  I love it when he asks that question.  I love that he is willing to ask for my time, energy and attention.  There is vulnerability because the answer could be, “no,” but the chance to be “in life” with dad is worth the risk.

journal, journey

Just thinking about the act and habit of journaling today.  Journaling keeps me moving and growing.  Reflecting, praying and thinking with a pen in my hand helps me to make sense of life, to encounter truth with wisdom and the heart, and to pay attention to God’s voice.  I’m an intuitive, so I often end up journaling about concepts, big ideas, illustrations, future plans and projects.  And I really enjoy writing out verses from the Bible and my responses to them.

“Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher”. Howard Hendricks

There are at least five ways journaling helps me.

  • It cultivates awareness, both with the reality around me and the reality in me. 
  • This awareness can lead to honesty, which is at the heart of a transformed and vibrant life. 
  • It offers, over time, a sense of narrative to life.  I can see where I came from, where I am, where I am going.  The key players and themes of the past begin to show themselves in the present and direct my plans for the future.  Without this life-story awareness, the pursuit of meaning seems empty.
  • It is a tool we can use to dig for wisdom and insight, things that are discovered by the heart and woven to the soul only in the context of real life and through effort (see Hendricks quote above).
  • It enables us to access and pass-on what we have discovered.

new year, new hope

Happy New Year!  I hope you are leaping into 2008 with eager expectation.  For the new year I’d like to carve out three 45 minute slots per week for swimming and possibly swim the 5 Kilometer race across lake Balaton in the summer.  Never thought I would enjoy swimming for exercise, but it has really grown on me while living in the water polo capital of the world.   

I’m also adding a couple new components to my journaling this year.  Journaling has been so helpful for me over the years with the inward, outward, and upward journey.  I’m also really glad moleskin notebooks are back in business!!

Thirdly, I’d like to create more integration between this blog and our present communities, our work with Nexus, and our spiritual and family journey here in Budapest.  I’ve mapped out a plan for this, and I’m going to give it a try for a month and see if the plan needs adjusting. 

Fourthly, we of course still have some concrete goals for working hard on the Hungarian language. 

I’ve heard that 46% of us are still keeping our resolutions after six months.  That sounds conservative to me.  So here is a helpful acronym for goal planning from the project management world- S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific – goals should be specific and clear as opposed to general.
  • Measurable – goals need to be capable of being measured in some fashion.
  • Adjustable – there needs to be a way to adjust your goals according to your rate of progress…if it is faster or slower than originally anticipated. 
  • Realistic – goals can be set beyond you present ability but are attainable over the present length of time.  Research says that difficult goals usually lead to improved performance as long as those goals do not exceed your ability to attain them. 
  • Time-based – there should be a clear time-frame (short-term, intermediate-term, long-term.)  There should be clear target dates set from the beginning.  

And you know, thinking of goals in positive terms instead of negative terms is always more effective.  And process goals are usually better than outcome goals (improving effort or performance vs. winning a competition).  And finally, most goals deserve a good strategy.

With our minds we plan our ways,
But God directs our steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

calling

“To know what we are here to do, and why, is not an abstract, philisophical question.  There is no question more personal and more passionate, no question that is closer to our hearts.”  -Os Guiness

“Vocation does not come from willfulness.  It comes from listening.  I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like it to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.”  -Parker Palmer

“Calling is where your deep hunger meets the world’s deep needs.”  -F. Buechner

“Calling is not primarily about increasing your earning potential or status, but it refers to the fact that God made you with certain capacities, and this world needs you to fulfill those.”  -JR Woodward

“That “ultimate why” for living, the highest source of purpose in human existence is to be found in answering the call of our Creator.  Calling is the truth that God has created us for Himself.”  -Os Guiness

“Instead of, ‘You are what you do,’ calling says, ‘Do what you are.'”  -Os Guiness