Christmas is Over, Now What?

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I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning feeling really down. Just had a blah kind of a feeling. Unmotivated. Not depressed or sad, but kind of down.

My first thought as I finished breakfast was, “Is this the after Christmas blues?” Or, “Am I just getting old now?”

Maybe you feel like that. Maybe you don’t (if not, pass this blog onto a friend that needs it).

I shared this quote on Sunday in my sermon that encapsulates what a lot of people feel around Christmas (I can’t remember where I found it):

Christmas Eve. The perfect picture of anticipation: sleepless excitement for something we’ve been waiting for all year. Every year on December 24, my parents let us open a present. This was a teaser, a taste of things to come, and we kids relished it. Of course, it wasn’t much of a surprise – my mom always got us new pajamas, even when we didn’t need them. But still, it was a ritual of hope, one in which we celebrated the gift of giving and the joy of gratitude. Christmas morning. An unfortunate picture of disappointment. I am obviously only one person with his own set of experiences, but as I talk to others, I find similar feelings of frustration. As they get older, many people seem to develop a general distrust toward any day that promises to fill the emptiness they’ve felt all year long. This explains the rise in suicides during this season and why, for some, Christmas is a reminder of the inevitable letdown of life. The unfortunate answer to the question, “Did you get everything you wanted?” is, of course, no. And we feel terrible about this. Why can’t we be happy? Why can’t we be satisfied? Will we ever be content with what we have – with the gifts in our stockings, the toys under the tree? Why is there this constant thirst for more?

As I thought about it today (after I destroyed myself with Crossfit), I started to wonder if we set ourselves up for failure leading up to Christmas. Christmas in many ways can be like a wedding and the letdown after on the honeymoon, follow me for a second. All of this pressure, build up, energy, stress and thinking and money goes into Christmas and a wedding. Then it’s over. The parties, the gifts, family, friends, the tree, decorations, cards, Christmas specials, church services, meals, over. Then we sit around looking at our gifts, watching our kids play with them and get tired of them and play with them some more.

You wake up on December 27, 28 or 29 and wonder, what now?

Here are some things that came to mind as I prayed through this feeling for me that might be helpful for you:

  1. Stop and take a breath. Slow down. December is a mad sprint for most of us. You went to more parties than you can count, ate more calories than you care to remember. You are tired. Take a break. Maybe take a nap. Read a good book or your Bible. But give some time to slow down. Stop rushing.
  2. Get moving. For me, I went and worked out, listened to some good worship music, prayed and got moving. Maybe you need to get moving and do something active. Most Americans will join a gym this week, maybe you should. At least take a walk, a run or a hike.
  3. Say thanks. Be thankful for what you have. Remember, someone is grateful with less than what you have. You may not have as much as someone else, but you have what God has seen fit to give you right now. Also, you may not see the next Christmas or someone you just celebrated with may not see the next Christmas, so savor the moments. Take a little longer in those hugs or laughs or cries.
  4. Get out of your house. I love being at home, with my family and friends. But, sometimes it is good to get out of your house. Go see a movie, do something fun, go see some Christmas lights. Don’t just sit around (sometimes you should sit around), but get going.

What do you do to fight the after Christmas blues?

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Things I’m Thankful For

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Tomorrow is thanksgiving and then Black Friday and then Christmas will be here. In the midst of the holidays, it is easy to fly through them and miss what matters most. I thought I’d take a minute to share some things I am thankful for this year.

  1. My wife. It is hard to believe that Katie and I have celebrated 18 thanksgivings together from marriage and dating. It never gets old. Everyday I am blown away by her patience with me and our kids, the determination she shows in teaching them and her growth in godliness. She wakes up while it is dark out just to read her bible and pray for me and our kids and other needs. Her generosity challenges me everyday. She opens our home up to people, makes them feel welcomed and loved whenever they are here. I love being with her, watching her grow and do things and seeing how God uses her.
  2. My kids. It is hard to believe that I have 5 kids. While transitioning 2 new kids in the last 2 years into our family via adoption has had its challenges, the joys have far outweighed those challenges. Each night as we sit around the table as a family I’m blown away the noise our family can make. I’m also wondering what impact our kids will make in the world. God brought each child into our family for a reason, given us 18 years to train them and disciple them into adults who love Jesus and I can’t wait to see what they do with that. It is humbling and an overwhelming task.
  3. My church. Revolution Church celebrated 5 years this past September. Many churches don’t make it past year one. The things God has brought us through have prepared us for what is ahead. Today, we are stronger than ever before. Our staff and leaders are more talented, gifted and passionate than ever before. Our staff and elders are stronger as a team than we’ve ever been. We are healthier, financially stronger than ever and on track to plant Revolution Church Midtown next year.
  4. God’s protection in our lives and church. While difficulties come every year and I’ve grown to expect them in life, it is amazing to see how God protected us as well. Friends have moved out of our lives, people have left Revolution and those always hurt, no matter what. They are also reminders of God’s protection and his perfect timing. Looking back, I’m able to see how God moved in the perfect way. He brought Judah into our family at the right time.
  5. The Steelers play on Thanksgiving night. While I’m not sure they’ll win, the fact that they will play is a great way to end the day.
  6. My parents living close. My dad is one of my best friends and I love my mom. It was hard living apart from them for so many years and it is awesome having them less than a mile from our house. I love watching the relationship they have with our kids.
  7. Time off. Many pastors either don’t take time off because of ego or because their church won’t let them. I love that I have some down time this weekend and have a great friend preaching for me (seriously, he is really good and you don’t want to miss it). Thanksgiving also means it’s almost Christmas which is a little bit more time to catch my breath and enjoy my family.
  8. Homeschooling. This has become a serious blessing to our family. I don’t talk about it that much because what we do for our family works for our family and I don’t believe homeschooling is the only way to educate your kids. It works for us, our rhythm, allows to be together more and be on mission more strategically as a family. This past year has been a real blessing for that.
  9. Life changing books. Every year I read a ton of books and I’m on pace to reach my goal of 75 this year. I read 3 life changing books this year: Start with Why (the best leadership book I’ve ever read), A Praying Lifeand In Search of Deep FaithIf you want a book to read this month, pick one of those.
  10. A full house. Tomorrow, we will have a full house of family and friends. It never gets old having people into our house to enjoy a good meal. One of the things we want is to use our house to be open to people, to be hospitable. I love how our kids get this vision and ask who is coming over and how excited they get when people are here. A house is a gift from God and is meant to show people his love and grace. I’m hopeful that will happen tomorrow.

What are you thankful for this year?

What I’m Thankful For…

I thought I’d share a few quick things I’m thankful for:

  1. My wife. I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have Katie in my life. Hard to believe that we are celebrating our 17th thanksgiving together, 10 of those in marriage. Each year, she gets more and more beautiful, and our marriage gets sweeter and sweeter. I could not ask for a better wife.
  2. My kids. This year, I have 4. Last thanksgiving, Nehemiah wasn’t even on our radar, but now he’s celebrating his first thanksgiving. I love the laughter of my kids, their imaginations, their energy and how they keep me on my toes. Being a father is truly one of my life’s greatest blessings.
  3. A new house. We moved last month and couldn’t be happier in our new house. We have more room for our family and having people over, and we’re closer to our friends, church and where we do life.
  4. Completing a dream. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. This year, I decided by the end of the year I would know if that dream would become a reality. I’m close to knowing and it looks really good.
  5. My church. Most church plants do not reach the place Revolution is, and I’m thankful for where we are. Our team is stronger than ever, our church is picking up steam and God is doing some incredible things in the life of people. We’ve seen 5 people start following Jesus in the last month.
  6. My friends. Last night, we had several friends over and will have more over today. I know many pastors do not have any friends at their church, and I’m blessed to have many. I’m thankful for the friends I have, because several of them are becoming lifetime friends.
  7. My health. It’s crazy to think that 5 years ago, I weighed 130 pounds heavier than I do now. I can’t imagine going back to that body and lifestyle. I’m grateful that at 33, I’m in the best shape of my life and feel great.
  8. Today. We grill our turkey, hang with friends, watch a lot of football and eat too much crab dip. Thankful for those things.

What are you thankful for?

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Fantasy Football: The Night Fury

For the 3 of you who care, here is my fantasy team. I had the last pick in a 12 team snake draft. And it’s a keeper league. Feeling pretty good about my draft.

  1. Matt Forte
  2. Cam Newton
  3. A.J. Green
  4. Wes Welker
  5. Antonio Brown
  6. Shonn Green
  7. Reggie Wayne
  8. Rashard Mendenhall
  9. Santonio Holmes
  10. Jacquizz Rodgers
  11. Dustin Keller
  12. Ryan Williams
  13. Daniel Thomas
  14. Davone Bess
  15. New England
  16. Rob Bironas

Historic Day

Right now, at 12 noon eastern time, history will be made and Barack Obama will be sworn in as our new president.

I love this picture because it reminds us all of the weight of a leader, the weight our president carries and regardless of your feelings on the man, he needs our prayers.

Why the Steelers Won

After every sporting event, the talking heads on ESPN ask the question, “Did the Steelers win or did the Cowboys lose?” In this case, the Steelers won.

The simple math is this, the Cowboys turned the ball over 5 times. You do not win in the NFL if that happens.

Many talking heads point to the fact that in spite of this fact, they were still in position to win at the end of the game, save for a horrendous pass by Romo. At the same time, with a little over 5 minutes to go, the Cowboys were up 13-6. The Steelers drive 67 yards to score with 2:04 to go to tie it up. 20 seconds later, glory. Deshea Townsend intercepts it and goes to the house for the win.

The Steelers still have not given up 300 yards to another team’s offense, even to the high powered Cowboys. One guy said Romo has trouble in cold weather, which is too bad. But funny. The Steelers were still able to win, even though they did not rush for over 65 yards. Roethlisberger put them on his back and won the game. Kind of like Romo couldn’t do.

One made mistakes at the wrong time, the other made none. No interceptions for Roethlisberger proved to be the difference.

Here is what some other writers had to say:
Vic Carucci
NFL.com Game Center
ProFootballTalk.com

Alright Cowboy fans, let me hear it. Tell me how the Cowboys lost this one.

In Pain

Yesterday was the first time that I had been out for a ride (I’ve been running recently). I did a 20 mile loop that I have done a hundred times, only this time I missed a turn. My 20 mile, 1 hour loop quickly became almost 40 miles and over 2 and a half hours. This morning, I can barely move. I feel like an old dude.

24: Redemption

Katie and I are huge 24 fans. We got sucked into the show after it had been on for a few years and went back and got caught up. We watched the first 3 seasons in what feels like a week.

Last night’s 24 was such a tease and I cannot wait for January 11th? How many times can Tony Almeida come back and how many times can he die? And is Jon Voight not the perfect bad guy?

A Night of History

I was a history major in college. How many people thought this night would come? A night when we would elect African American president. Amazing. What a historic night in the history of our country.

I’m praying for Barack Obama and the burden of leadership he will take on as president.