Seasons

Seasons

Photo Credit: jimcrotty.com via Compfight cc

 

This summer flew by! It seems like every year, our summer break is shorter and shorter. It was just yesterday that we turned off the 6am alarm clock and celebrated freedom from oppression… I mean school. Now, here I sit one week back into the pattern of school bus routes, sports practices, and homework. What happened to my summer? No more swimming. No more afternoon picnics… this stinks!

Now with the ranting over, I do want to say that I love it that we’re about to enter into one of my favorite seasons here in North-East Ohio, the Fall. In just a couple weeks the trees will begin to change color. The air is going to grow colder again and you’ll literally be able to smell Football in the air. I love the Fall! I love the change in season. Summer is great, but to be honest, it can drag out a little too long for my taste.

Guess what? I’ll have a similar rant when the Fall turns into Winter. I hate it and I love it. And then another when Winter turns to Spring. I hate it and I love it.

Seasons. They come and they go… and most of the time, there’s nothing we can do about it. Now if you’re like me, you love the change of seasons. I think I like the change of seasons, because I just like change. I love it when something new or unexpected happens. I love variety. I love newness. I love options.

This is certainly true with the seasons of the year, and it’s just as true with seasons of life.

Preschool, high school, new job, new home… new haircut, doesn’t matter- bring it on.

I understand that you’re probably not like me though. So let’s quickly look at three things that happen when we enter into a new season of life.

When we start a new season we always have the potential of:

Losing Something

You don’t change from something familiar to something new without losing a little. You’re always going to miss something of the past. I’ve even seen this when I moved to ”something better”. It’s amazing how after a little bit of time, I can look back at the past and forget so much of what drove me crazy. All of a sudden, things weren’t that bad.

One Crazy Summer

road trip

This is going to be one crazy summer for the McGinnis family. Last week was the only week all summer without a camp, mission trip, or major activity. So naturally, it became the best week for our annual Summer Vacation. Our family goes to Hilton Head just about every summer. It’s something we look forward to all year. It’s our one time to completely un-plug and just be together as a family.

Now, before you get this beautiful picture in your head of our six angels lined up on the beach standing perfectly still with smiles on their faces, just waiting for the camera to click, you need to get a slight reality check. Please understand that we have 2 teenage daughters, 2 over-active elementary aged students, and 2 preschoolers. Throw them all into a hot van for 12 hours and shake it all up… and that might look a little closer to reality.

With that being said, Aime and I work really hard at having accurate expectations of everyone. We expect our teenagers to act like teenagers and our preschoolers to act like preschoolers. It just goes a lot better when you remember that a 3 year old can’t (and won’t) sit still for longer than 2 minutes and that you’re going to get an attitude from time to time out of your teenager. When you keep a good perspective on the vacation you’re just going to have a lot more fun.

Every year vacation looks and feels a little different. Why? Each of us look and feel a little different than we did the year before. (Except for my wife who somehow has managed to look exactly the same for the last 18 years.) Although every year is a little different, there are a few things that remain the same.

 

Here are four phrases that we say every year… and mean.

“Stay with Your Beach Buddy”

This is one we picked up a couple years ago- It’s so much easier to keep up with everyone in the family when they’re together… looking out for one another. We want our kids to grow up always looking out for each other. One of our core values is Family First… and we mean it.

I Think Everyone Should Be a Christian… It’s Not Too Hard

Light in Darkness

I had a conversation the other day with a good friend about the Church (with a capital C) and Christianity here in America. If you know me at all, you can imagine that most of it was sarcastic. Though, thinking back over the conversation… I’m afraid too much of it was true… or at least could appear to be true. The conversation went something like this:

“I think everyone should be a Christian…”

Lately I’ve discovered that it’s a lot easier than I previously thought. You see, I’ve discovered that:

Christians don’t have to work on their marriages any differently than non-Christians.

You can still focus most of your energy on achieving “The American Dream”.

Whatever happens in the privacy of your home is really just between you and your spouse… oh “and God too, but He’s not going say much.”

You’re under no obligation to try to meet the needs of anyone other than yourself and your family.

You don’t lose the right to poke, jab, and /or criticize others who have hurt you.

You don’t have to even mention if something popular is wrong or considered sinful, after all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

You don’t have to worry about having to become a priest, pastor, missionary, or anything like that. There’s really only a few people who have to do that kind of stuff.

There are a few hang ups, but they’re not too bad:

You gotta be pretty good at looking “not so screwed up” on Sunday.

You need to continually work on the art of passive aggressive language and behavior.

You don’t need many, but a few Bible verses are always helpful to have on hand.

And you’ve gotta remember where you are and who you’re with because context is everything. (What might not be ok in one context doesn’t necessary mean it’s always wrong.)

But most importantly, here’s what YOU GET when you’re a Christian:

People are generally nicer to you at church.

If you can figure out the whole context thing, people are really going to think you’ve got your act together. (Especially if you’re willing to put a little “time in” and help out with the kids once in a while.)

You get start off each week fresh… almost like a clean slate.

Ok, enough sarcasm! You get the point.

Here’s the thing. I love Church. I really do. If you would have asked me a few years ago, I’m pretty sure I would have only been able to tell you all about my disappointments with it, but now, I can honestly say I love it. For starters, it’s God’s tool to change the world. He really doesn’t have a plan B… The church is it. Like it or not, Christians are called to live in this world as light in darkness.

The danger with being light in darkness is this though:My eyes get accustomed to the dark.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a sick child. I got out of bed, and helped my son. I then went down stairs and got water and made it all the way back up to bed. All of this was done in near pitch-black darkness. Now, while I was walking around, it didn’t seem too dark. There was the light from the outside lamps. The moon was also shining in pretty strong, illuminating the whole house.

…ok, it was dark, but my eyes had grown accustomed to it, and I adjusted.

I can’t help, but to look at my own Christian walk and ask the question: Where have my eyes adjusted? Am I still light? Or am I simply just not looking as dark as everything else. Am I living as though I believe that my life as a follower of Jesus can look the same as the world?

Pop the Bubble You Live In

This is a message I preached a few weeks back aimed at challenging our church body to “Pop the Bubble You Live In”.

Everyone of us in America lives in a nice little bubble. We love our bubble. We protect our life in the bubble. We only associate with people in our bubble. Life is good in the bubble! However, if we want to make an eternal impact on this world, the first step to this is Popping that bubble.

Hope this challenges you half as much as it challenged me.

When I grow up…

When I Grow Up

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A few days ago (April 16), my wife and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary… of our first date. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m one of those guys who remember obscure anniversary like that. I remember it like it was yesterday. Oh, not just because I was finally going out with Aime Johnson. I remember it because we had to end it short so that I could go to the hospital to see my twin brother after he had a bad pole vaulting accident. As a matter of fact, my buddy J.T. took her home and spent the evening with her. Lucky for me, J.T. was a good guy and one I could trust otherwise it could have been our 1st and last date.

My wife and I dated from the time she was just sixteen and a Junior in High School until we we engaged on her eighteenth birthday and married six months later (she was eighteen and I was twenty). 

When you marry young like us you get the advantage of growing up together. To be honest, I have a hard time thinking about my life before my wife, because there really wasn’t much life before her. Eighteen years seems like a long time until you’re pushing forty. Every year since the first year of marriage, I’ve asked myself the question:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

That seemed like such a tough question at twenty. There were so many possibilities. My resume’ had everything on it from a Degree in Bible, to a vast array of coaching experiences, to a license to drive a M113 tank  from serving in the Army National Guard as a TOW missile gunner.

So what was it going to be? A pastor? A missionary? A mercenary for hire?  I had no idea.

At first, the decisions of life and work were easy. Just do what ever you can to make enough money to pay the bills. If the bills were paid, then your family would be taken care of and everything else would fall into place. So that’s what we did. I worked as a hardware rep. for my uncle for many years. I was also a part-time Youth Pastor at my Grandma’s church. I coached 3 seasons of sports at a local school, worked production line at my in-laws. I even went as far as buying and selling artwork on this new website called eBay, and built custom-made barn wood entertainment centers and tables and sold them at flea markets. You name it, I did it. Whatever it took.