Thursday, August 23, 2012

A New Form of Spirituality

Before I had kids I used to spend at least an hour reading the Bible and praying a day. Once kids arrived my schedule became very unpredictable as sleeping schedules changed. A spiritual director told me, "Maybe it's time to find a new form of spirituality." Since then I have learned the beauty and joy of listening to God while doing things like running, washing dishes, and even playing with my kids. Yet, there is something uniquely powerful about studying the Bible. This podcast has helped me recently as we transition to a new season.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Take Time to Be an Engaged Parent

Take time to be an engaged parent.
Take time to cultivate.
Take time to dance.
Take time to pray.
Take time to heal.
Take time to play.
Take time to cry.
Take time to listen.
Take time to laugh.
Take time to say I'm sorry.
Take time to say you're forgiven.
Take time to be fully present.
Take time to hug.
Take time to learn.
Take time to teach.
Take time to shape.
Take time to affirm.
Take time to discipline.
Take time to be transformed.
Take time to be an engaged parent.

Remember, hovering over your child is not the same thing as being engaged.
Remember, keeping your child busy is not the same thing as being engaged.
Remember, nobody is perfect. There is much power in learning how to forgive and be forgiven.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Typo King

For some reason, I've had a lot of silly typos lately. The other day I sent an email calling my church PFC instead of FPC. It just happens. No matter how deep my content might be, I always have a silly typo. When I was a kid mistakes like that made me feel dumb. Now I just shake my head and laugh at myself. I used to tell people I have the spiritual gift of stupidity. I'd say, "Somebody has to mess up enough to make other people feel better about themselves. Might as well be me." 

Here are some memorable typos:
1. I once started a cover letter with "Dr. Mr. Smith." Luckily I was applying for a job in Portland and the guy was super chill. He responded, "The more titles the better!"
2. Once in high school I was taking a Spanish test. I wrote "wantar" for "to want." Even people who didn't speak Spanish knew that the word "want" had something to do with "quiero" because of the Taco Bell commercials at the time.
3. When I got the job at FPC they asked me to submit a picture of myself for the newsletter. I accidentally sent one with me standing in front of a guy holding his crotch/doing the "pee pee dance." It was taken outside of a bathroom in Honduras. It was a funny picture, but not appropriate for a profile pic at a church!

I guess this is just part of my humanity. It will happen again. Probably todai. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's Safe Here

In the book Hurt 2.0 Chap Clark describes the state of today's adolescents. From the title, I'm sure you can tell it is a heavy book to read. In one of the appendices Clark identifies three groups of teens who are at the margins of adolescents. They are the most at risk kids.

The groups are as follows:
  • Kids with special needs
  • Kids who are raised in poverty
  • Kids who are raised in extreme wealth
I work with the last group. Like all people, these students long to be loved and long to fit. However, in this particular group, they are only allowed to be perfect. In this group, an 85 on a test is not good enough. In this group, it is frowned upon to go to community college. The more I walk through life with these kids, the more I realize that these kids are not allowed to be human. To be human is to live in the tension of beautiful and ugly, full of life and full of pain, hopeful and hopeless, and good and evil. Simply put, we cannot escape our brokenness. However, we also cannot escape the fact that we were made in God's image.

One of the biggest problems that this world view creates is that these kids do not know how to mess up with grace. They feel every minor mistake deeply, as though it is a character flaw.  Kids all over the country are literally dieing because they cannot put up with the pressure. Kids all over the country are literally dieing because they can't be perfect enough.

The good news for these kids is that their worth is not determined by their gpa or by the prestige of the college they attend. The good news for these kids is that they don't even have to go to college to be considered persons of worth.

May we all have the courage to not project our insecurities on children and teens. May we all have the courage to create safe spaces where children and teens can thrive. May we have the courage to love.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Discipline of Fun

My brother-in-law John introduced me to David Wilcox back in the late '90's. He made me a mixed CD  containing David Wilcox, Kelley Joel Phelps, and Ben Harper. While I enjoy the art created by all three, I specifically love David Wilcox because of the depth and the vulnerability of his lyrics. He goes to the depths of what it means to be a human seeking after truth, comes back, and writes a song about it. Some of my favorites are Deeper Still, Beyond Belief, and Hold it Up to the Light.

Wilcox clearly spends hours honing his craft. This week he posted a video about the importance of a healthy work/life balance. He titled it "A Discipline of Fun."

Check it out:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sovereign Strong | Purposeful Fashion

For as long as I can remember my sister Tami has been passionate about fashion. I remember watching her sketch ideas for clothes when she was in high school and I was in elementary school. As she matured into a woman who follows Christ, her passion for fashion has taken a different form. Now she is using her passion for clothing to help usher in the kingdom of God.

In January she launched a clothing line called Sovereign Strong. It's clear from her mission page that the company is purposed to do more than make beautiful clothing. At first they will send a portion of their proceeds to organizations that help eradicate modern-day slavery. Eventually, they want to create a production facility in the Bay Area that hires and empowers women who have been freed from the oppression of human trafficking. I'm pretty jazzed about all of this. If my schedule opens up, I hope to join her team as a legal and financial consultant.

You too can help:
1. Help her raise the money needed to launch the first seasonal collection by checking out her video
2. If you know a boutique owner tell them about Sovereign Strong and see if they'll carry SS clothing
3. If you believe in the mission but are unable to contribute financially, go to the SS Facebook page, "like" it, and write an encouraging comment.
4. Tell your friends!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Youth Ministry

I'm blogging from a large mall in Houston, TX. I'm typing on my iPhone. I'm here helping lead 40 middle school kids on a service trip. This week I was reminded why I love youth ministry. The crazy thing is, six years ago I told my wife that it was time for me to begin transitioning to adult ministry. Yet here I sit, with an overwhelming love for these people stuck between childhood and adulthood.

 Here are some highlights from my week:
1. A teen with autism stopped me this morning to brush my hair. He finished with saying, "There we go" and then went to brush a kid's hair who was using the urinal.
2. Last night I found myself in an impromptu techno dance off. The dance was abruptedly cut off when my neck spontaneously cramped up and I fell the he ground in pain. I couldn't help but cry from the laughter that ensued (or was it the pain?).
3. I met a kid named Isaac and he talked to me about prayer being like breathing.

Few people stay in youth ministry long enough to make deep impacts. They acquire wisdom and insight to loving adolescents well but leave as soon as a sexy position opens up in adult ministry. Even if I do become a senior pastor one day I cannot imagine myself staying away from dance offs or food fights or conversations about finding hope in the sheol that is middle school. I'm hooked.

 Last week my spiritual director told me "as we parent well we heal." To parent well one must be completely aware of his/her weaknesses. This enables said parent to be fully engaged. The same goes for ministry. As I minister well I heal. Somewhere between collapsing during the dance and having my hair combed by a kid I experienced the transformation and healing of Christ.

 I think I'm just getting started.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Community

I've been reading a book called The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace by Scott Peck. Here is some really helpful info I found regarding community.

There are four stages of community:
1. Pseudocommunity - People act like they have everything in common and avoid conflict
2. Chaos - Occurs when well intended "solutions" are not realized.
3. Emptiness -  too complex to explain here
4. Community

In the chaos section Peck writes, "Since chaos is unpleasant, it is common for the members of a group in this stage to attack not only each other but also their leader. "We wouldn't be squabbling like this if we had effective leadership," they will say. "We deserve more direction than you've been giving us, Scotty." In some sense they are correct; their chaos is a natural respond to a relative lack of direction. The chaos could easily be circumvented by an authoritarian leader - a dictator - who assigned them specific tasks and goals. The only problem is that a group led by a dictator is not, and never can be, a community. Community and totalitarianism are incompatible" (p. 92).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blog Swapping and Reading

It's been a while since I last posted something on Cagle Journey. My journey is slightly less busy this season than last. However, all of my blog energy is going into my college rankings and student reviews blog called The College Consensus blog.

For those of you who play the SEO game, you know that backlinks are key to a successful online business. Rather than just ask companies for backlinks, I've started partnering with websites and swapping blogs. That way, they get a backlink on my site and I get a backlink on theirs. Plus, I still get the same amount of posts on my blog even though I'm posting on other blogs. Got it?

Last week my partner Jeremy wrote a great post for college bound homeschoolers on My Footpath. This week I wrote a checklist purposed to prepare high school juniors for college on a scholarship website called How 2 Win Scholarships. I'm not a huge fan of the website format but the content is really good and the woman who runs things is very knowledgable.

So that's what I've been up to. That and reading silly books like the Hunger Games series and Imaginary Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How do you define Success?

"I am so busy. We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, our ability to withstand stress a mark of real character. The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for a sunset (or even know that the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single, mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life." Sabbath by Wayne Muller (p. 2-3)

How do you define success?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eugene Peterson on Being a Busy Pastor

"I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble. "I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice - that I am important. . "I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day's work because I am too slipshod to write it myself."

- Eugene Peterson

Thursday, February 2, 2012

From Losing Time to Changing Behaviors

In my field I often encounter very driven people who put spiritual and emotional health on hold in order to spend more time and energy on working towards financial gain and vocational success. Parents implicitly (and sometime explicitly) teach their kids that educational success is the only thing that matters. Dads work long hours and barely even see their kids.  The problem is, time never stops.  We waste much of our life rushing to success while missing being fully alive in the present.  We can gain success in business and live our lives empty because we have neglected the things that really matter.

I have a confession. I have been losing time. As I mentioned in the last blog entry, I started a business.  The idea was that I would come home from work, play with the family, eat, read books with the kids, and help get the kids in bed. Next I would use the time I formally used to study for my MDiv to work on my business. School assignments have a distinct beginning and end. Running a business never ends. There are always more things to do.  I found my mind racing at all hours of the night. I would finally get to sleep but then sleep late.  I would miss mornings reading the Bible with my boy. I would be distracted during the day when I should have been fully focused on being with my family. I have been losing time.

While we cannot go back in time, we can change behavioral patterns. We have the choice to say no to good things to make room for the best things. I am still committed to getting this business off the ground.  However, I am creating stronger boundaries so that I do not miss out on time with my family. Here are the steps I am taking to make healthier decisions.

  • Delete Facebook and Twitter off of my iPhone (at least, for a few weeks)
  • Establish more reasonable business goals for each week
  • Remember that unachieved goals do not cause the earth to explode
  • Establish consistent work hours during the week

It's funny that changing behavioral patterns requires simple goals.  It isn't rocket science.  But is also requires discipline.  It requires letting one's desire to have it all together.  It requires the awareness of one's limitations.

Interestingly enough, there are many studies out there that suggest that taking care of emotional, physical, and relational health can actual lead to more productivity.  Success and health are not mutually exclusive.  In his book, Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy shares tons of stories of people becoming very successful while living a life of balance.  He also offers many tools to help people create a healthy life trajectory.  Read it today.

Do yourself and those around you a favor.  Slow down.  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Drink a cup of coffee slowly.  Breathe deeply.  Embrace your loved ones more often.  Laugh more.  And ultimately, don't lose any more time.