Fun, fun, fun: Don’t let anyone take the T-bird away

The last few days I have been part of a program set up by Jon Acuff. It’s called #30DaysofHustle. Jon’s been sharing ideas with us on how to make ourselves more productive at what we’re doing in the new year. I’ve been sharing, as part of that, how those ideas are impacting my decisions and thought processs.

Change should be fun. People don’t like change, so they drag their feet, become argumentative, and generally are just really sour when change happens. Around January 1st, though, everyone (it seems) wants to change.

Around February 1st, though, most of those folks are back to where they were on December 1st.

I’m pretty sure there are two things that make a world of difference between those who change their life and those who don’t. First is a strong why. We’ve talked about that. The second is fun. If you’re not having fun when you’re changing, you’re probably not going to keep up with it.

As you may know, I’m working this month on keeping up with my writing. I’d set a goal of 1000 words a day. My other goal has been to get 30 minutes of exercise in daily. It turns out that both of these are difficult. Life gets in the way, things trigger other behaviors that keep me from doing what I know I need to do. When that happens it is very easy to beat yourself up and suck the fun right out of what you’re doing.

What’s that mean? Keep the goal fun.

Writing isn’t fun for everyone, so I might have to explain how to do that. Writing, for me, is a creative process. Creating is fun. When I write a poem it lets me express difficult emotions. When I’m writing a story I create characters and the world they live in. It’s an awesome feeling.

Working out. That’s tough, especially when you have body parts that don’t always cooperate when you want to do stuff. I put on some music and talk to the dog, who watches me like I’ve lost my mind. Also, my family has committed to doing an activity together at least once a week that allows us to exercise together. The Peace River opens into Charlotte Harbor just a couple of miles from here and a bridge runs over this. It’s more than a mile long and has a pedestrian lane that is walled off for people to run or walk on. We plan to do this from time to time, but other options include visiting some of the local parks to hike, and in some cases the trails aren’t just walks, but fitness trails with workout stations. I’m looking forward to our first trip out in a few days.

If you have a goal this year and you’re struggling with it, look for a way to make it fun. If you can’t think of a way to make it fun, let me know in the comments. Don’t keep it to yourself. Let me, or another reader, help you with your goal. We are, after all, made for community, and there is no shame in asking for help.

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A warrior awakened: my thoughts following Promise Keepers 2013

I was part of a group from my church who went to Promise Keepers in Daytona in October. The theme this year was “Awakening the Warrior.” It made me think about where I’ve been, and where I am now.

     At 10 I came to the Cross because I wanted to be John, a Son of Thunder, learning and loving at the feet of Jesus for all time.

     I drifted though; fell asleep as I began to navigate that narrow path and got lost along the way. Like Peter I found myself in danger because I had taken my eyes off Jesus. Oh how easy it would be, it seemed, to just slip beneath the waves forever. Or, returning to the trail analogy, to just set up a small cabin in the woods where I was.

     I thought Jesus will love me more if I work hard at being nice, doing good deeds, and trying not to do wrong. That’s what I thought. That’s what I’d often been told. What I’ve found, though, is that Christ’s work in me and through me is something more, something different and more exciting. Still, I often found myself resisting.

     He is not to be denied, however, for He is Lord. He called to me, through storms of lust and malice, and calls to me still — wake up, Jay, wake up; that thunder is not in the clouds, it is all around you. It is the sound of spiritual conflict — warfare of the highest and most pressing order. Take up My Sword, not a blade, but my Word. Put on My Armor, My Helm, Breastplate, Boots … and having gird yourself for battle, stand.

     God has called us to war against the rulers of darkness, etc. Not to fight members of the decorating committee, or members of another denomination or to attack someone for being a different faith. By all means, counter lies with God’s Truth, but do so with love, and heap ashes on them thereby.

     God has begun a good work in you, or maybe he is trying to but you are resisting his call. The message I took from PK is that it is well past time to put Jesus at the center of all aspects of my life for my sake, my family’s sake, but most importantly, for His Kingdom’s sake. He woke me up.

     At 41 I return to the Cross every day, every hour, and sometimes every second, to meet with the Author and Finisher of my faith, so that I would not, will not, forget, that no work of my own will ever extend or accomplish further the work He has begun in me and will continue to the end. I need Him every hour to remind me it isn’t about me. It isn’t about my wife or kids, no matter how much I love them – I even washed their feet when I got back from PK. Even then, though, I reminded them of what I learned at the end of October. It’s all about Jesus.

Mission To Ecuador

When I was about 12 or 13 I dreamed of being a missionary somewhere. Sadly I didn’t have the support that allowed the dream to grow and bear fruit. Instead I ended up pursuing a crazy, mixed-up pattern of mistakes that threatened to overwhelm and probably even kill me.

As Winston Churchill and some country singer said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I’m coming out the other side now, if I’m not out entirely. My relationship with God is much like it was when I was young, but with some more mature elements.

Several weeks ago one of the pastors at my church told me about a parent-child missions trip being planned to Ecuador in November. My youngest, Noah, has a heart for God and has said he wants to be a teacher-pastor-missionary when he grows up. Well, he’s seen teachers and pastors at work. Now it is time to see missionaries at work, and join them in their work.

Noah will be 13 when we go on this trip and he’s pretty excited about it. It’s impossible for a 13-year-old boy in this day and age to be single-mindedly fixed on something, especially if they are as ADHD as he is. The truth is, however, that he does have a surprising amount of focus on this, which is exciting.

When our team, roughly 20 strong, gets to Ecuador we will be working with IncaLink, a mission started by CMA missionaries Rich and Lisa Brown. We don’t know yet what kind of work we will be doing, but some possibilities are working with orphans, working with the elderly, working with homeless populations, or helping to build churches.

Gustavo Cadena, president of IncaLink Ecuador, has even suggested we might work with indigenous peoples in the jungles, too.

If you visit the IncaLink website you will see how much need exists there. How can you help?

There are two ways you can help us. Noah and I ask that you consider both, but we’ll one or the other, gladly. First, please pray for us. Specifically, pray that we follow God’s lead in this endeavor and that He prepares our hearts for this work. Next, please pray for God’s provision. It’s not cheap to do something like this. I’ll have more about this in a bit. Pray for the people we will come in contact with, that God will work in a mighty way in their lives. Also, pray for our team, that we come together and work together and grow from this experience. Also, please pray that this trip brings Noah and I closer to each other and closer to God.

As you may have guessed, this trip requires money. God put this trip on our hearts from the start and we need to rely on Him and His people to provide for it. Please, as you pray, ask God whether you can support us. I have a PayPal account that you can send to. My email address is jlamborn3@gmail.com and you can contact me that way. Another way to send support is to mail a check to my church. If you do that, please make it out to First Alliance Church and make a note in the memo that it is for the Ecuador trip. Then contact me to let me know you did this and the treasurer can note that it is for my trip costs. Why would you do this and not put that it is for me in the memo? Tax purposes. It’s complicated, but if the check is for a ministry and not a person, you can make it tax deductible. The address is 20444 Midway Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33952.

When we arrive in Ecuador I will be filming and photographing our adventures in ministry with the hopes of posting daily updates to keep our family, friends, church, and supporters informed of our activities.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Your support means a lot to Noah and I. We are really looking forward to pursuing this dream of serving God together. Even if you are not able to support us financially, please pray and leave a comment below to let us know you’re praying for us.

That’s some yummy humble pie

I’m in landscape management. According to my self-created job description I “locate and remove threats to landscape integrity.”

I pull weeds.

I was thinking about this as I pulled weeds this morning. Is this where I thought I’d be at 40 when I was 14?

No. And yes.

I grew up on a farm and thought, in 1986, that I’d be running it by now, have a few horses (something we hadn’t had since the early ’60s), and have a few books published. If I was pulling weeds it would be so I could enjoy some solitude and have some time to just think.

How the mighty have fallen. I grew up in a life of upper middle-class privilege, though my parents made sure I worked my tail off enough to deserve a little of that privilege. Today I’m pulling weeds for a friend who offered the job to help me out.

Humble pie? You betcha.

God is using that, though, to help me understand what people of a variety of backgrounds and experiences go through. Since leaving the Marine Corps I’ve rolled with the penniless and with people worth millions. I’ve been unemployed and I’ve made $2000 in a week. I’ve lost and gained and lost and gained family and friends. I’ve made some stunning mistakes along the way. I’ve had a few triumphs. Like Job, I’ve learned to bless the name of the LORD in either instance.

This morning  I discovered my sciatica. I’m not sure exactly what I did, but somehow I pinched it. As I was rubbing my back I began to think about my current situation. I’m on a farm, I’m pulling weeds, I am writing, and I’m using the time with weeds to talk with and worship God.

I’m happy. I don’t know that I’ll ever own my own farm, but this experience is priceless. If I’d known this humble pie was coming in 1986, I’d have been prepared to choke on it. In retrospect, however, I’d say it is actually delicious.

Question: Have you ever had an experience that, going into it, you would not have enjoyed, but when it was over you were glad you went through it?