Monday, February 27, 2012

I can’t lift weights………I don’t want to get bulky.

The following guest post is from Kevin Brookshire, a Recreation Ministry Leader and Fitness Enthusiast.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that if you lift weights you will instantly get huge and look like a professional body builder - male or female.  The thing missed is that resistance training, lifting weights, is one of the greatest ways to slim down and burn fat.  And when you combine cardio and resistance training, it takes you to a whole new level of physical fitness. You see, it takes years….even decades to get to that size and muscle tone.   It takes working out twice a day for 7 days a week.  Eating 10,000 calories a day when bulking and cutting that down when you are getting ready to lean out for a competition.    It takes commitment to a lifestyle of getting that….bulky.  In every fitness lifestyle, you have to have a goal, a goal to work toward. It could be to just lose weight, to improve overall health, or to be a competition bodybuilder.  It’s actually no different in our lives as Christians.  God lays before us the plan, the training to become a totally devoted follower of Christ.  Do we strive each day to become closer to him, to know him more, and to be totally in his will?  Do we train daily by reading our Bible, being involved in Bible studies and praying more and more each day?  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Choose wisely

I often feel as though I am in the constant state of “dieting.”  With the scale staring at me every time I enter our bathroom, I’m daily reminded of the need to “take that run” or say “no” to that ice cream.  Summertime is especially the worst for me, as the hot air and full days keep me from any chance of a consistent exercise routine.

Several years ago, Steve and I were challenged to make some simple “swaps” when it came to our eating habits.  Without noticing a huge difference, and watching some “easy pounds” melt away, it became a lifestyle choice for us.   On rare occasion we will “splurge” and indulge in the “good stuff”, but for the most part, we adhere to these healthier options.  (Although I've never read them, I know there are several books that include great swap options.  They are "The Biggest Loser - Simple Swaps" and "Eat this, Not that!")  

Here are some of the easy swaps we made, and 8 options for you to adopt as well!  

1.     Turkey Meat – In our home, it will be a rare day for you to find anything other than turkey meat!  We’ve swapped out turkey bacon, turkey hot dogs, and even ground turkey for the “real thing” and hardly noticed a difference!  With nearly the same consistency and taste of beef, you’ll smile at the hundred of calories and high percentages of fat you’ll save by simply swapping out your meat!
2.     Cut off the fat! – Okay, this really isn’t a “swap” but it sure does save you calories!  Whenever we buy chicken (or steak) from the grocery, one of the first things we do, before putting on a marinade or letting it travel out to the grill is to cut off any excess skin or fat we see on the meat!  Once it cooks, it can be hard to see, and easy to eat, but if you cut it off, then you don’t have to worry about eating empty calories.
3.     Pudding – Here’s a swap that I challenge you to try!  Rather than sitting down on the coach to watch the biggest loser and indulging in your bowl of decadent ice cream, try eating pudding with a dollop of cool whip on the top instead!  Again, you’ll save yourself 100 calories (or more, depending upon how much ice cream you eat!), without even noticing!
4.     Coffee Creamer – Are you a devout coffee drinker?  We are!  Steve and I typically go through 1-2 FULL pots of coffee every day, and sometimes even more!  Without even realizing it we were “sipping down” hundreds of calories in creamers, and not feeling full in the least. That’s when we switched.  Instead of half-and-half I use skim milk instead, and save myself nearly 40 calories a cup.  Steve (not a huge milk fan!) has switched to sugar free creamer, which saves him 20 calories a cup – quite a difference if you drink several cups a day!
5.     Popcorn – Do you get that evening “munching” feeling?  We do!!  We usually wind down at the end of each day by watching something on our TV, and when we finally sit down and stop, it’s not unusual for one of us to ask the other “do you want a snack?”  Early on we would head to the pantry to find Oreo cookies, chips, or something even worse for us!  Now, we head to the pantry to pop a bag of 100-calorie popcorn!  With the delicious flavor of Kettle Corn, and only eating 50 calories each, we’re not left longing for a thing.
6.     Diet Soda – Okay, so the nutritionists in your life will probably not agree with us here, but one of the best switches we have made is to choose “diet” soda, rather than drinking down that 100+ calories per glass in the regular stuff!  Steve can’t quite stomach the truly diet options just yet, so he’s sticking to Coke Zero, etc., but I challenge you to give it a try!  The tastes may take a little getting used to, but the pounds you’ll save in the long run, are worth the change!
7.     Part-skim cheese – One of the easiest swaps you can make, without really even noticing, is purchasing part-skim, or low-fat cheese in the grocery.  I’m sure there is one, but we really can’t tell a difference!
8.     Fresh – Okay, so this one may seem obvious to everyone, but instead of buying processed snack food, dosed with sugars and who knows what else because we can’t understand the ingredient list, buy fresh fruits to snack on instead.  Apples and Peanut Butter (low-fat) are one of our most favorite snacks!  Strawberries are also a great choice, and even yummy watermelon can be a delicious treat.  Here’s the bottom line – if you don’t buy the other stuff, it’s not going to sit and tempt you at home.  Instead, your healthier options will entice you and your slimmer waistline will thank you!
What about you?  What simple swaps have you made to save yourself calories and pounds?  Let us know!  We’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Define the Win

 If you grew up playing sports, then you are familiar with the thrill of winning.  You were able to look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and feel the satisfaction of seeing your team come out on top.  Your team scored more run, more touchdowns, more baskets, more goals and victory was defined by bright number proclaiming to the world who the better team was on that day.  As the lights go out on the field, graduation happens, and the real world comes in the form of a career defining the win can be less easy.

There are still just as many team dynamics in place as when you may have played on the field formally or informally as a kid, but victory tends to be unclear.  Ask yourself this question, “Does everyone on my team know what a win looks like for his or her position?” 

Your assistant needs to know what a win looks like.  It may be in terms of productivity or tasks, but your assistant needs to know.  Your direct reports need to know what a win looks like.  If they are not striving for something, they are liable to give themselves to lesser tasks that do not support the overall mission of your organization.  From the point leader of the organization to it’s part-time employees, everyone needs to know what a win looks like for their position.

As a leader, it is often your responsibility to define the win.  Here are some principles to keep in mind as you do.

1. Make it Measureable – There has to be a quantitative or qualitative measurement that can be applied to your team’s work.  It has to be something that they can track.  Like RBI’s in Baseball or Yardage in Football, your team has to measure how their work is going in order to understand how close they are to the win.

2. Find the Finish Line – Help your team understand where the finish line is for certain tasks or projects so that they know what they are working toward.  Help them understand how to know if they have “won” once they reach the finish line.  This will motivate them toward the win in a specific time frame.

3. Celebrate the Success – Celebration has to be the culture in order for the win to mean something for the people pursuing it.  This means pausing for recognition of key team members who fought hard to get to the win.  If there is a celebration of the win, your team is more likely to get back out there and compete again.

Don’t let your team become dispassionate in a winless culture.  Define the win and motivate your people toward it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Performance Review

A performance review has the potential to drive fear into the hearts of those being evaluated. When it is coming, you begin to wonder: Did I do enough?  Were the results good enough? What if I missed something? This kind of stress can be daunting, though it is a natural part of putting yourself under the microscope so your work and achievements can be assessed.  The goal o these kinds of reviews is to help the person being evaluated to see the potential they have in some areas and the liability they present in others.  While performance reviews are a common practice in workplaces in multiple fields, it should also be a part of the way we live our personal lives as well.

If you have never stepped back and asked yourself what the good, bad, and ugly of your personal life is then you are neglecting your own potential opportunities and looming failures.  So what would a personal performance review look like?  It begins with a series of questions… Some examples might include:

What are the results of my behaviors in my relationships?

What are the opportunities I have that I am not taking full advantage of?

What are the issues that are constantly causing problems in my life?  How do I solve them?

Where do I hope to be at this time next year and what is keeping me from getting there?

You could list a thousand more questions to honestly assess where you are.  The point is to get a clear picture of the person you are and what it will take to get you where you want to be.  Because it can be difficult to see some of these things in ourselves, it would probably be a good idea to invite some others to help you in the process.  It could be a spouse or a close friend.  Find someone who loves you enough to be honest with you. 

Finally, make sure that you invite God into the process of self-evaluation as well.  One of the greatest kings in the pages of the Bible was King David. He wrote the following in Psalm 139,

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

God knows you better than you know yourself.  He can help you in your personal life Performance Review.  Knowing yourself is one of the best characteristics a person can have.  Start with an honest assessment of where you are.  You will be glad you did.

Monday, January 23, 2012

“I am doing something…..that counts, right??”

The following guest post is from Kevin Brookshire, a Recreation Ministry Leader and Fitness Enthusiast.
There is a big misconception that just being active is enough to become physically fit, that taking a walk around the block a time or two a week is good enough.  Some believe being healthy is eating a salad a couple times a week, or going to the gym and doing a little of this and a little of that is just fine for me.  Fact is…it’s not.  It should be considered only a start.  Being healthy is a way of life.  I hate to call it a routine, because it is more than that.  It’s a way of life in that you have to commit to getting better each time.  It’s about digging deeper and really finding out what you’re made of.  It’s starting out walking around the block or treadmill.  Then it becomes jogging, and then running.  You put yourself on a workout plan that suits your needs.  You start an eating program that fuels your body and makes it capable of functioning at peak performance throughout the day.  You eat 5-6 small meals a day to ensure that you are always running full bore.  And once you have everything in motion, you stop and think.  This is really not that much different than our walk with God.  He doesn’t want us to just go through the motions.  He doesn’t want us to just be active.  It’s not about just memorizing verses or showing up at a worship service.  He wants to be part of our life.  He wants to live life through us.  He wants us to be so focused on our relationship with Him that it becomes a way of life.  It’s not something that is just done or said… is lived!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Family Mentors

Just a little over a year ago, my wife and I discovered the joys of parenthood when I our little boy came into the world.  We were thrilled, blessed, excited, and SCARED!  The sacred trust of raising another human being is a massive responsibility.  While nobody is perfect, you certainly don’t want to mess up too badly as a parent.  Our parents were a huge help in giving advice and speaking from the personal experience of raising kids in the past.  Even so, we needed role models who were in the trenches of the early stages of family life. 

As we began looking for these family mentors we found a wealth of wonderful examples…

The Hunts – This family of five showed us the value of learning the temperament of each of your children and interacting with them on that level.

The Herrings – Another family of five that demonstrated the power of “Rites of Passage” in raising young men.

The Thomas’ – A family of six who gave us the example of raising kids who love to spend time with you, but consider you a parent rather than a friend.

Each of these families taught us these lessons and so many more just by doing family life in front of us.  Their example spoke volumes.  There are so many more families that we could add to the list above.  Here’s the point…

As you embark upon or continue on in the adventure of marriage, parenting, and family life find other families that you respect and do the following…

Watch Them – See what makes their family tick.  There could be a few big things or several little things that make them a family worthy of respect. 

Ask Them – As you think through issues in your own family or questions you might have, ask them what they did when they encountered specific situations.  They may not have all the answers, but at least they can speak from experience.

Steal From Them – There are tidbits of wisdom from these families you should steal for your own.  Take their best ideas and put them into practice.

There are so many that get it wrong when it comes to family.  When you find one of those few families who get it right, learn all you can from them.  The result could be a happier, healthier life for you and your family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The following is an article from by Margaret Feinberg.  These are great principles for leaders to keep in mind.

Many articles are dedicated to nurturing a leader's growth, giving practical advice and insights. But what about those who don't want to grow to become a good leader? Look no further. Here are the 8 best worst ideas for leadership growth:

1. Don't delegate jobs. Do it all yourself! Why get eight hours of sleep when you can survive off two? Many people in your ministry have hidden talents you may not be aware. To engage them in a job would be an ineffective use of energy. Instead, burn yourself out by amassing large amounts of responsibility you can't manage. Besides, the bag-under-the-eye look is popular right now.
2. Stop learning. Don't read any journals or up-to-date blogs to expand your thinking. Refuse to change your perspective once you learn other's opinions and methods. Why become more compassionate and well informed if you can close your mind to any learning opportunities?
3. Invest in fiscal irresponsibility. Make a paper airplane out of your ministry's budget sheet. Don't worry yourself about staying within financial boundaries. Good stewardship? Pitch it. Don't try to seek wisdom in handling money from those gifted in this area, either. Saving and planning for the financial long term only decreases your present momentary pleasure. Rent a pony for the office!
4. Make your ministry all about you. This is an awesome opportunity to build your pride. Become upset when others take their attention off you to serve others. Print 12x8 autographed posters of yourself and hang them in place of the cross. Focus on your needs, your goals, your expectations, and not on Christ's command to love others as he loves us.
5. Forget a vision or big picture plan. Why stay on track with your goals when you can be spontaneous all the time? When a big picture unifies a team you miss out on the fun of constant bickering, arguing, and awkward tension. If you also cut off communication between workers, you give everyone the opportunity to create their own mini impenetrable fortress within the ministry. Provide building blocks to add to the excitement.
6. Under all circumstances, refuse to take charge. If the floods come and heaven's lightening is falling like rain, don't give into pressure to take charge. A group of people can lead themselves. Oh, they may wander around a bit, acting as though they are lost, but eventually they'll get it. Don't act on the ministry's best interests or squash false rumors. Better yet, don't act at all. They may have hired you to be the leader, but it's not what they really want, right?
7. Promote inconsistency. Pull as many U-turns as possible by retracting promises and not practicing what you preach. Don't show up when you said you would be there. Be wishy-washy in your directions by being vague, ignoring consequences, and then changing them right before they are completed. Cause people to question your trustworthiness.
8. Don't invest in next generation leaders. Destroy all the hard work you and others have done by making sure your ministry will come crashing down without you. Don't prevent future mistakes by sharing what you've learned with young leaders. Why bother impacting and shaping upcoming enthusiasts when you won't be around to see what they do?
What bad ideas would you add to this list?
Margaret Feinberg is author of The Organic God, The Sacred Echo, and Scouting the Divine and their corresponding DVD Bible studies. Follow on facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Far Would You Go To Accomplish Your Dream?

Would you quit your day job?  Would you take the hit financially?  Would you go back to school?  This is a sampling of some of the big sacrifices we think about when it comes to accomplishing our dreams.  After all, big dreams often require big sacrifices.  These kinds of sacrifices take a great deal of personal courage and come after long seasons of prayer and thought.  For the dreamer, these kinds of sacrifices are a reality they are willing to pay.  However, there exists a whole series of smaller sacrifices that must be considered in accomplishing our dreams.

Think of it this way… For the one who desires to write a book, there is the daily discipline of writing, editing, sending in manuscripts, accepting critiques, working with literary agents.  For the one who desires to run a marathon, there is the reality of daily training, nutrition, and injury care.  For the one who desires to start a small business, there is the discipline of securing the initial investments, securing leases, hiring first employees, receiving and filling the first orders. 

These are small steps that lead to a greater reality.  Often, we make the mistake of counting the big costs of achieving our dreams without counting the smaller costs that will surely be a part of the journey.  You may be ready to sell it all for your dream, but are you ready to do diligence in the details required in bringing a vision into reality?  Are you willing to take the daily steps that will lead to your dream’s fruition? 

Maybe your next step is to sit down and write out a list of sacrifices big and small.  Think it through. Pray it through.  Then, with eyes wide open to the road ahead, commit to fulfill the dream God’s has placed on your heart.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When Work and Family Collide

Starting a career and a family happened nearly simultaneously for me.  I got married, wrapped up grad school, and got a "real" job on in the course of less than two years.  In my mind I wanted to be successful in these two arenas and I was going to do it right.  Some had great careers at the sacrifice of their families, but I was determined to be different... Then came the reality.  Though I knew tension existed between the work place and the home front in life, I never guessed it could be so difficult to manage in certain seasons of life.

Just a few years into our marriage, with a baby on the way, and working four to five nights a week on top normal office hours during the day something had to give.  Though we were not at the end of our rope at home, we were way out of balance and the issue was my inability to create a reasonable pace at work and home.  It was in that season that I came across a sermon series by Andy Stanley that literally changed my perspectives on work and home.  

"Choosing to Cheat" was all about the fact that you generally choose to cheat someone or something when it comes to your time.  Often, that someone or something is a family or a marriage.  The result... Well without even listening to the sermon series you know what the results are.  The messages were at once convicting and inspiring.  It gave me a new perspective on how to handle the tension between family and work.  It gave me the motivation and tools to choose family first in many ways.

There are still seasons of life where I get the balance between work and family wrong, but I've come a long way.  This is due in large part to Andy Stanley's messages. I wasn't the only one that found them helpful.  From CEO's to pastors to car salesmen, I've heard how the concept of "choosing to cheat" helped them in their quest for balance.  The series was so popular that it was released as a book.  Last month, the book came out in print under a new name: When Work and Family Collide.  

If you are like many of us that struggle to find the balance between family and work, let me encourage you to pick up a copy of the book or download the messages from North Point Resources online.  Yu and your family will be glad you did.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who's Next?

We live in a world that always begs the question… What's Next?  The next task on the To Do list.  The next date on the calendar.  The next project to tackle.  We constantly feel the pressure of "What's Next".  Perhaps we get so caught up in thinking about what is next that we lose sight of an all important question that every leader faces at some point… Who's Next?

When another offer comes and God leads you elsewhere, who is next in line?  When the unthinkable happens and you are no longer able to lead, who will inspire those you lead toward the vision?  Not every organization allows their leader to decide who sits in their chair next, but every leader is responsible to equip heirs to the vision and mission.  Leading requires thinking beyond yourself; that includes your timeline.  You will not always occupy the leadership role you are in today.  Who's Next?  

Sustainable leadership toward real results often takes generations of leaders who have poured into the lives of others.  For this reason, leaders need a plan in place to develop, empower, and hand-off to other capable individuals.

So how do you identify "Who's Next"?

Look for Potential.  There are people around you even now that have incredible potential.  Start helping them unleash that potential toward performance.  Look for opportunities not only to teach them, but to give them practical experience.

Who is Already Doing It? There are usually others that are doing a lot of what you do to a lesser extent.  With or without the title, these are the kind of people who are going to get the job done.  These are capable people.  Start plugging them into your hand-off plan.

Help Them Soar.  Let them into your world.  Show them what you do and how you do it.  Give them the distinct advantage of being eye-witnesses of the process.  Once they have seen it, let them do some of it for themselves.  Help them learn and support them when the going gets tough.  Continual development is a must here.  It will take time, investment, and a great deal of patience.  Then, when they are ready help them soar.

Cut Your Losses. Sometimes the heir we choose turns out to be somewhat of a disaster.  When this is the case, you could spend your energy and reputation trying to right a sinking ship or you could begin looking for a better "next-in-line".  Opt for looking for someone else having learned the difficult lesson of choosing someone who couldn't cut it.  It sounds harsh, but often you and the person that you are cutting loose end up being relieved that the pressure is off.

We owe it to leave the people we leave with options once we move on.  Begin thinking and dreaming of "Who's Next". They may be the one to take that which you led further than you ever dreamed possible.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Winnie-the-Pooh Car life!

Moments after our car pulled into the garage, and we unloaded Caleb from his car seat, joy overtook his face!  After a long 9 hour drive he was so thankful to be out of the car and able to run and stretch his legs!  He bolted inside the house, and an instant giggle was heard outside!  I grabbed a few bags and headed inside only to find our sweet son pushing his Winnie-the-Pooh play car around the house!  His joy was contagious, and wasn’t found in one of the many incredible Christmas gifts he had received.  Instead, in that moment, his greatest joy was found in a toy he had already been playing with for months!

Many times we start a New Year with planning and looking forward toward the things that are ahead.  You spend time preparing for goals and new requirements at work.  You work toward getting your calendar organized for that upcoming family vacation, dinner party, or business trip.  Many times when 2012 arrives you have personal and professional resolutions already in place that you are trying desperately to live out.   In most cases, work or school has already been pushed to full-throttle and you find yourself looking toward and dreaming about your next vacation or break on the calendar!    Life can so quickly get ahead of us, and our break-neck pace spinning so out of control before we have time to even realize and slow down!  Don’t let that be your 2012!  Don’t miss these treasured first few weeks and months of a new year because you’re so focused on the things that are ahead.  Make sure that you take some time to look back, and find great joy in the things that have delighted you this past year!

During the Christmas season it’s easy to be reminded of the importance of spending time treasuring the people and things around us that have brought great blessing.  Why not spend the start of 2012, treasuring the people and things that have already (and continue to) bring you great joy!  Go look for that “Winnie-the-Pooh car”, and allow it to bring a giggle to your heart like it once did!  I guarantee that doing so will allow you to keep what matters most in focus, for the start of 2012!

So why not do that today?  Why not decide today to cherish, for the rest of 2012, something you’re blessed by, or thankful for?  Let’s try to make 2012 a year of JOY and gratitude.  Truly, “The Lord has done GREAT things for us, and we are filled with JOY!” Ps. 126:3

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saving Money Can Be Music To Your Ears

In high school I served tables part-time at a local restaurant.  I wish I could say that I was saving for college or putting money away to secure my financial future.  In truth, the money was mostly spent on CD’s (and we’re not talking about Certificate Deposit here).  Music has always been a part of my life, so spending the cash on the latest album was natural to me.  The cost added up quickly.  Often, I could spend upwards of $40-50 in a week.

Then came iTunes.  No need to buy 14 songs on an album when you could simply have the one or two that you really liked. A quick download brought the music straight to your computer/iPod and you were ready to go. Still, if you are anything like me, you enthusiasm for music could lead you to spend upwards of $150 or more in a given year.  Now a new era has begun…

Spotify launched in the United States just a few short months ago.  It resembles an iTunes format in that you can get the songs you want, put them into playlists, and listen at will.  The biggest difference… Spotify offers free music.   That’s right free.  Like Pandora, there are some commercials that will be interjected into your playlist.  Unlike Pandora, your music is completely customizable, just like an iTunes playlist.

For a small monthly fee ($4.99 a month) you can listen to your music without commercial interruption.  While this amounts to $60 a year, it is still a fraction of the price that I would pay in a year’s time.  For $9.99 a month you can stream to your mobile devices.  Since I don’t listen to much music on my mobile devices, this is not as appealing to me for the additional cost.  However, if you do like music on your mobile device and spend more that $120 a year on music, this could be a viable option to save money.

“Wait just a minute!” my legally-minded friends may be thinking.  “How could this be free and legal?  Sounds a little Napster-esc to me.”  Let me sooth your worries with these two facts about Spotify.  First, you don’t own the music and cannot burn, share, or copy it.  Therefore, the music does not belong to you. Second, according to Spotify any artist that is featured through their service makes money from being streamed to your computer.  So you can feel good about supporting you favorite artist legally when you listen.

I’ve used the service for about five months now personally and for the organization I work for.  The library contains almost all the artists and titles that I have searched.  The quality of the streaming is as if it were an actual file playing from my computer.  It has apps and a social media component through Facebook if you are interested.  I’m a raving fan.  So sign up and check it out for yourself…  Happy listening!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cold Mythbusters

As a pre-teen, I would trot down the stairs in our home on a cold morning with wet hair.  Fresh out of the shower and often running late, it was not uncommon for me to cut time by not fully drying my hair.  My parents, with the best of intentions, would send me right back upstair to dry off.  Then came the familiar catch phrase, “You wouldn’t want to catch a cold.”  Winter in my childhood home was made up of this scene playing out over and over again.  This ingrained a belief that wet heads create wet noses.  Now, years later, it turns out standing in 40 degree weather with wet hair may be stupid, but it won’t give you a cold.

This is just one myth that the Huffington Post busted recently about colds.  In the midst of cold and flu season, there is apparently a lot of misinformation out there about how to prevent getting the sniffles.  For example, did you know that cold weather is not the cause of “getting a cold”?  Though common thought to be associated with the common cold, cold weather has gotten a bad wrap.  The weather is not a determining factor in weather or not you will catch the cold virus.

In a season when sickness is prevalent among much of the population, here are some other myths busted or proven by the Huffington Post…  Click Here

If you are like me, you are willing to go a little out of your way to prevent being taken out by the cold and flu season.  When it comes to our health, knowing the facts is always half of the battle.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolve to be with your family!

(Photo and idea taken from

Previously, we have talked about the importance of spending quality time together as a family.  Many of you may have made resolutions to spend at least one day a week (or hour, or evening) together, talking and spending time as a family.  That quality time usually involves having the TV and computers OFF, and focusing on one another without allowing other distractions to steal away your precious moments with family.  This week, we want to provide you with a family activity to do during those “fun family moments!”

One of the best ideas I think I recently found on (but originally from was a brilliant idea to use something you probably already have in your home...Christmas Cards!  I always feel bad about throwing the cards away, after the Christmas season has ended, but never know what to do with them.  Conversations usually go something like this…
Should I save them for next year? 
Probably not. 
Should I file them away? 
What for? 

Usually I record the addresses in our address book and end up tossing them with guilt in my heart.  Well, NOT THIS YEAR! 

This year we will be developing a weekly “flip-book” with the Christmas Cards we received.  The flipbook will prompt us to pray together, as a family, for each of the families on the Christmas cards.  So, for example, this week we’ll be praying for the Shugart family, and next week, the Miller Family.  Get the idea?  I don’t have 52 Christmas Cards collected from this past Christmas season, (although you may!), so once we flip through each family, we’ll just start the flipbook over again. 

The best resolution you can make for 2012 is to resolve to allow your family to have your best!  It’s so easy for us to give our “best” to everyone else, that by the time we get home at the end of the day, we’re weary, exhausted, and just plain grumpy.  This year, why don’t you resolve to save some of your energy until the end of the day, and offer it to your family!  Whether it’s once a day, once a week, or twice a month I assure you it will be time well spent.  Resolve in 2012 to make your family your top priority, and when with them...Be All There!  Don’t just say it… choose to make 2012 the year that you live it out!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Leadership Resolutions for 2012

This morning, we wanted to share with you an excellent article, found at the, challenging you to rethink your leadership skills at work, and set new resolutions in your leadership style for 2012!  You can find the link to the article at the bottom of this post.  Happy reading!


Five leadership resolutions for 2012

By Sam S. Rainer III
Specific changes with followers in mind can help leaders create a more impactful ministry.
New Year’s resolutions are often self-centered; it’s understandable. Successful people often reflect on who they are. They try to be more self-aware. They desire to develop themselves. So, good leaders often make resolutions involving individual goals, desires and objectives. Many leaders have resolve — the determination to see a goal and achieve it.
Too often these goals involve what individual leaders can do on their own. By the nature of their roles, however, leaders have people around them – teams, subordinates and followers – who are necessary components of success.
Allow me to challenge you to make resolutions this year with followers in mind. Here are five areas to consider in making specific leadership resolutions this year that benefit your followers.
Serve first. Everyone in an organization, from the top to the bottom serves the mission. As a leader you cannot serve the mission without also serving others. The best leaders are passionate about a mission, and they are willing to serve others who join them on that mission.
These leaders realize organizational goals and individual goals cannot be attained with an attitude of “Me first.” Leaders who show the way by serving others (as opposed to self-serving) help create a culture of sacrifice to a mission. Resolve this year to serve the mission by serving others.
Simplify work. Many people look for ways to simplify their lives this time of year. But the mantra to simplify lasts about a month before the complexities of life sneak in by Groundhog Day. Then an endless string of complex days continue until the following year’s resolution. One of the best gifts a leader can give followers is simplicity. Complexity may dominate your followers’ lives in every way, but you can grant them simplicity in the one area in which you have control. Managers who simplify work for their subordinates often create more work for themselves. Resolve this year to simplify for your followers, even if it means more complexity for you.
Release problems. Some problems are unsolvable. This creates a dilemma for leaders who have an innate desire to fix everything. Idealistic leaders will often present good solutions to the wrong problems.
Sometimes the “best” solution will not work. In certain cases, followers may never grasp the best solution. Let it go. Leaders serve people, not ideals. Resolve this year to release your followers from the burden of idealistic solutions to unsolvable problems.
Yield preferences. Most followers have a keen radar for the personal preferences of a leader, especially when these preferences are spun as vision. Leaders have positional authority over followers, and those in charge have more opportunities to voice opinions and vocalize what they like.
The best leaders find ways to create a collective vision with input from a variety of followers. They do not champion their preferences as the vision for all. Resolve this year to yield your personal preferences and build a collective vision from a variety of followers.
Recognize pride. Humility is the most difficult leadership trait to see in ourselves. The opposite of humility, pride is the most destructive leadership predisposition. Great leaders never stop fighting the battle to recognize pride and remain humble. It’s the quintessential leadership struggle. We stand on a sliding scale somewhere between healthy humility and unhealthy pride.
Even at our best, determining where we are on this scale is tough. We rarely recognize our pride until it’s too late. Followers often see it long before leaders become self-aware of arrogance. Great leaders appoint accountability partners at all levels of the organization to call attention to potential problems originated in pride. Resolve this year to put measures in place to recognize prideful tendencies and give key followers permission to call out problems associated with your pride.
Leadership is a gift from followers. Graciously accept this gift by resolving to serve followers by putting them first. Make 2012 the year of your followers.

Sam S. Rainer III is the president of Rainer Research and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Murray, Murray, KY.,

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Don't forget to track your progress!

Well, the first full week of 2012 is halfway over, and by now, you’re probably beginning to question those resolutions you made.  “Was it really worth it?”   “I’ve already messed up once…maybe I should just quit.”  “I haven’t even started yet…maybe I should just wait ‘till next year to start.”  These questions may be filling your brain, and doubts clouding your goals.  Assuredly, if they haven’t already, these doubts will soon come, as your 2011 routine has been altered as you try to accomplish your 2012 goals.  From personal experience I’ve found that there is only one way to keep you on track in accomplishing your new years resolution.  There’s only one way to really see them through to the end, and finish out 2012 proud of what you’ve accomplished.  Want to know what that one thing is?  Progress.

I’ve found that unless I feel like I’m making some sort of progress on my goals, I’ll give up on them.  Unless I see that the end is in sight, or that my hard work is actually paying off, I’m incredibly tempted to give up and go back to where I started.  That’s why recording your progress is a key essential to maintaining your goals.  So, the next question to ask, is based on your goal, what does that look like?

Well, if your goal is to loose weight, you need to first, determine exactly how much you plan to loose, (and how long you want to take to loose it!) and write it down.  Then, every single day you need to get on the scale.  (Preferably the same time every day, so that your weight doesn’t fluctuate incorrectly.  For instance, if you always weigh yourself before breakfast, it won’t encourage you at all to weigh yourself following a delicious Chicken Pot Pie dinner!)  Then, one more step… you need to write down your weight every day.  That way, you can watch your weight head toward your goal, and be encouraged at each “baby step” you make toward your goal.

If your goal is to read books this year, determine how many books.  Maybe 12 a year – that’s just 1 a month!  Write it down, and check it off as you read it!  You’ll be so encouraged as you watch your book list start from 12 and whittle its way down.

If your goal is to pay off your credit card debt, then write down your spending goal, and include every dollar you’re able to save and put toward that debt. 

Get the idea?  Write it down so that you can watch your progress!

I’ve included a free download for you to use as you track your progress (if you are trying to loose weight), but truly you can create a spreadsheet to track any of your individual goals.  You may even be able to find one online already created!  

Click HERE for your free 8-week weight loss journal download!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking Back to Look Forward

Whether it is saving a few extra dollars or getting out of debt, many people take the New Year as an opportunity to set some financial resolutions.  Before we can look to 2012’s personal financial forecast, we have to look back at 2011.  Our last year of life is very telling when it comes to predicting where our pitfalls and opportunities are in the coming year.

If saving some cash is your resolution, take a look back at your bank statements from 2011 and ask what kept you from saving in the last 12 months.  Is there a pattern of expenses that drained your accounts?  What can you do to change that pattern?  If getting out of debt is your goal, figure out where your debt came from in 2011.  Where are the credit charges coming from?  How can you change those habits in the next 365 days?

It has been said, “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.”  This is true not only for world history, but for our finances as well.  If you are looking for a financial road map for the New Year, you can always pull out the one you traveled in 2011.  The terrain will most like be the same, but how you navigate it can be completely different.

May 2012 be your best financial year ever!