Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ducks go last

It's tempting in leadership to deal with the minutia.  To spend your time getting all of the ducks that are out of order back in line.

But the thing with ducks… they keep getting back out of line.  Faster than you can say ‘quack’.

Better to take care of the big picture and important things first.  And if you do that first, the ducks might get back in line on their own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Clarifying roles

None of this is mine, but pieced together from Seth Godin and Derek Sivers.

Free-lancer: Someone who works for themselves on their own time at their own pace.

Small-business owner: Someone who runs a small business and is integral to it continuing and succeeding.  He/She can't take any significant time off or it will fail.

Entrepreneur: Someone who builds something, usually a business, to the point that it runs itself.

There's nothing wrong with any of these options, but it's good to clarify and decide what you're shooting for.  I'm learning that in my job, the more I can pretend to be an entrepreneur, the better things will be in the long run, whether I'm there or not.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A blog about nothing

This is a blog about nothing. (Thanks George)

I want it to be about something, I really do.  But at present I'm not set on a specific topic.  Nor do I have enough time to try and build a following around that specific topic.

So what we're left with is nothing.  I will dabble in consumerism, discipleship, parenting, church, and living intentionally, but mostly it's a random hodge-podge of what's in my head.

I hope you hate it. (Thanks Reese)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Routines that work

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me feel more on top of things than when I fall into a good routine. It's true for me both at work and at home. If I have a regular plan for how things should go and I execute that plan well, things hum along smoothly. On the other hand, nothing makes me feel more off my game than when I can’t settle into a groove. If my routines are disrupted, I get grumpy fast (you’ve been warned!). 

I don’t think this just applies me. Routines help all of us by letting us put the unimportant parts of life on autopilot. We all have laundry, dishes, cleaning, and a million other things that need to get done. When we have to spend time actively thinking about all of those things, we get dragged down. Honesty check! Have you ever had these laundry room thoughts:
  • “How many more days can I go without doing laundry?”  
  • “I definitely did not buy this many pairs of socks for my kids. Where did they all come from?!”
  • “That business about separating light clothes from dark clothes is probably an urban legend. I'll just dump all the clothes in together!”
Note: These examples have no correlation with my personal experience (No really, I promise.).

Hopefully you get my point. If we have to give mundane but necessary tasks our full mental attention, it keeps us from focusing on what's truly important. I know that I’d rather focus on my relationship with God, my wife, and my kids instead of undone laundry and dirty dishes. Routines can automate the ‘need to get done’ parts of our life so we can spend more time focusing on what matters.

The pitfall of a routine, of course, is that things can become so rote, so run-of-the-mill, that we stop caring. We all need a Parenting Wake Up Call from time to time to make sure we’re not putting all of life on auto-pilot. Our routines need to serve our families, giving us more focused time with them, and not robbing us of meaningful interaction. I recently heard a story of a husband who sent automated emails to his wife if he was working late. Let me go on record and state that I think that is a bad idea.

Here are three Lindell family routines that work wonders for our sanity (and with 5 kids, we’re taking all of the extra sanity we can find!).
  • Laundry Sorting Wednesdays. Every Wednesday evening before we start our bedtime routine, we all get our laundry to the washing machine and sort it into piles. Huge piles, like mountains. We get the first load started right away. Getting that head start allows us to have all of our clean laundry fully put away 24 hours later.  
  • Bedtime Clean Up. Most of our bedtime routine is pretty standard: PJs, brushing teeth, reading stories. However, before we start those things we begin with a whole house clean up. Getting all the toys and general clutter picked up before the kids go to bed makes everything feel so much more peaceful. When we forget this part of the routine even for a night or two, things get messy fast!
  • Grocery Shopping. We go grocery shopping every two weeks. We always go on the same day at the same time. Our shopping routine has two benefits. First, we don’t spend time wondering when we’re going to the store next. Second, we save money. The less we shop the less we spend.
What about you? What routines have you found that work for your family? We’d love to learn from you! Leave a comment and share your wisdom.
 
I wrote this, my friend and co-worker Kyle Hill improved it, and it originally appeared on the COCUSA Blog.  You can find it and more cool posts about parenting at www.cocusa.org/blog

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Extra

We all have it. 

Some of us have more than others, but each of us has that little bit of extra.

That time, energy and focus you spend on...
  • football
  • house projects
  • TV
  • Facebook
  • Etc.
The list could go on endlessly I think.  The problem, at least for me, is that when one extra wraps up, I tend to find another one.  There were years I gave my extra time, energy and focus to the prospect of moving to a new house. Not a bad thing, my family did need to move.  But once we moved?  I decided to fill in that extra with a dog.  Not a bad thing, but neither was it the best idea I've ever had.

What do you do with your extra?
 
At some point maybe we could all stop filling our extra with something meaningless and just ... I don't know ... share Jesus with our neighbors and friends.  Crazy right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What we need...

More than great politicians, what we need are great leaders.*

So if you're in Illinois, go vote for some leaders in today's primary election.  Don't vote for the winner or the least worst option.  Vote for a leader.

Being a leader in your corner of the world wouldn't hurt either.

*In a random morning conversation last week, my lovely wife said this. She's pretty smart.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Life is connected, but separate

It's crucial to have systems to help you manage the complicated world we live in today. (A fair amount of notebooks, plus Trello is my current strategy.)  But even if you have the ultimate life-management system down pat, you still need to do a little separating. 

All of life is connected, and we should live all of it for God's glory, but I'm just not sure it's helpful or even possible to keep it all in mind at the same time.

So if you serve at your church, have a specific time that you put your effort into that.  When you get home from work, leave it at your back door and focus on your family.

If this isn't the time for you to be reading blogs or checking email, then you should probably stop.  If this is a good time for you, thanks for reading this one.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wake Up

Although we would never admit it, when it comes to parenting our children, it can be very easy to put things on auto-pilot. As parents, we want the best for our kids, and we strive to actively love and care for them. But if you're like me, real life often gets in the way of our desires. When the day-to-day grind comes in with its endless tasks lists, countless distractions, and continuous running to and fro, we put active and caring parenting on the back burner. What we end up trending towards is parenting by default - putting in less time and energy instead of more. We start doing less, despite our best intentions.

I don't know about you, but I know that I need a parenting wake-up call every now and then. Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries regularly writes about parenting on his blog, Cup O' Joe with Bill. He has some hilarious takes on parenting (like this one here), but more importantly, he provides the wake-up call that I need on a regular basis. In his post "The Disciple-Making Dad," he challenges us dads to be active players in raising our kids (instead of passively hoping that school teachers and youth pastors can do the job for us). Bill does a great job of balancing his challenges with encouragement,
"Great news dad. You don’t have to be perfect to be a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad. You do have to be present AND engaged though." 
What our kids need, more than a perfect parent, is a parent who is willing to disciple them in the every day moments.

My wife regularly reads Jess Connell's blog, Grow on Purpose. In this blog post, she shares about some of the struggles that moms go through. I love that she fights the cultural norm of go-go-go and says it's fine (and even good) to spend time with your kids. She says:
"It is a HUGE thing to 'just' spend time with your children. Christ Himself spent three entire years with 12 grown men and some of them still took a while to really get it." 
Take some time just to be with your kids. Look for potential disciple-making moments, but also realize that intentional focused time is one of the best things you can do, regardless of any cool stories or outcomes.

Here's to waking up and parenting to the best of our abilities.

I wrote this, my friend and co-worker Kyle Hill improved it, and it originally appeared on Camp of Champions USA's parenting blog.  You can find it and more like it at www.cocusa.org/blog.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Send it yourself

I send weekly prayer updates over email to friends and family that want to receive them.  Recently I switched to sending them via an email service instead of just doing it through Gmail and BCC everyone.  I liked a few features of the email client and, to be honest, like to try something new and techy when I can.
 
Well, sometimes the simpler things are better.  Due to the new service, my emails had been getting lost or redirected in a few friend's inboxes.  (Thanks mainly to the aforementioned Gmail.)
Sending it myself, while not quite as cool, still seems to be the best option to get my emails seen by those who want them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Car Buying Tip

Most of my car buying tips you probably already know. Don't take on a car payment, get a vehicle history report (horror story on not doing that here), etc.

Here's the tip that most people don't know about: Use Consumer Reports to determine a vehicle's reliability. 

Consumer Reports is a magazine turned website that gives ratings on every product you can imagine.  Once a year they put out a "Auto" edition that has literally thousands of car models with rankings.  (You can purchase an online subscription to view their information, but I've gotten by with a library copy of their magazine anytime I need it.)  The most important thing they rate is a vehicle's reliability.

The thing is, no one person can possible drive enough vehicles to know which ones are reliable or not. Yes, there are more reliable brands (like Honda or Toyota), but even they have some clunkers mixed in at random.  Consumer Reports gathers thousands of users experiences and breakdowns to give an overall reliability rating on each vehicle.

As I'm car shopping I look for cars that are above average reliability.  I have yet to be let down or find Consumer Reports to be wrong. 

One story: We were given a vehicle by a member of our church with an average reliability rating.  Not only did it die sooner than any other vehicle I've owned, it also had issues in the areas Consumer Reports observed: electrical and major engine.  Could be a fluke, but I doubt it.