I prefer physical books for many of the same reasons Michael lists here. Primary among them is the feel and interaction I have with books, taking notes, flipping pages, reviewing the big ideas. I have the same feeling about reading the Bible online versus my paper text. Maybe it is because I am used to the format, but I like being able to look at two pages in a paper book or Bible, because this trains my eyes to see context. Ebooks and YouVersion for my Bible is useful and used often, I just still prefer the kinesthetic engagement.
Teachers: Tend Your Heart This Summer June 4, 2014
After an exciting, yet energy-sapping school year, take time to invest in your own health. May your summer be filled with life-giving joy, adventure and spiritual depth, all for the glory of the author of life, Jesus Christ!
Keeper of Spring
There was a town in the Alps, straddling the banks of a beautiful stream, fed by springs high above. The stream was crystal clear, providing sanctuary for birds, children, rainbow trout, and picnics. It was a thriving town. High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man, known as the “keeper of the spring.” He carefully cleared the spring of anything that might choke the stream. Hired long ago, few remembered why he was there.
One day, the town Council looked at their expenses and decided they needed the old man’s paycheck for other priorities, so they fired him. The springs went untended; the stream clogged. For a time, no one noticed, but soon the water began to change, becoming toxic. The birds flew away, the fish died, the children weren’t allowed to play—some in the town even grew ill.
The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper of the spring.
The spring is your heart. You are its keeper.
In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon offers advice from father to son.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” NIV
The original language actually says “from your heart flow the springs of life.”
Your “heart” is the part of you that connects on the deepest level with who you are and your reason for being on this planet [and serving students at school] … it is your life and you are its keeper. Lose your heart and you lose your life. It is difficult to over-describe the worth of your heart. After a long year, some might have lost touch with their heart’s value. Let’s be honest, our world gives small priority to the condition of your heart, and life can shrivel it like a raisin. So I say to you, guard your heart!
A thriving heart, according to author Simon Sinek, starts by asking Why, before asking What. This summer is a great time to re-clarify your Why. What questions focus on task; Why questions get you to mission. After a long year, you may have boiled life down to asking What questions: what is on my to-do list for today? What is my curriculum? What is urgent? What keeps me out of trouble?
The Why question comes from deeper in our hearts. It asks, Why am I living this story in the first place? Tend your heart by learning to ask Why before you ask What.
Why-questions push the boundaries.
Why-questions embody a dream.
Why-questions change the world.
Health breeds health. Healthy adults = healthy students. As the leaders go, so goes a school. Healthy leaders guard their heart, and align life with their Why. But how?
5 positive heart-rejuvenating practices for your summer:
- The Discipline of Rest
- Retreat from the surge. Work hard, then rest.
- Genesis 2:1-2 – God rested from all his work; Exodus 31:12 “observe my Sabbaths … so you may know that I am the Lord.”
- Shut down for a third of the daily cycle. “Off-switch” given by God.
- Unplug, be quiet.
- The difference between ‘doing’ and ‘being.’ Doing comes out of being.
- Make deliberate choices toward restoration.
- How will you truly rest this summer?
- The Discipline of Reflection
- Not just reacting like a boxer to the volume of stuff – overloaded lives.
- Build in margin in order to have time for rest and reflection.
- Mark 1:35 – after a busy night, Jesus was by himself to pray. Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Jesus’ Why came from alone time.
- Bible reading and prayer in morning can be helpful, including journaling.
- Take time to process, intentionally reflecting on what is happening, what does this mean, where is God in this?
- In what part of your day will you invest in reflecting?
- The Discipline of Reading
- We are what we read.
- Reading is a form of rest and reflection.
- We don’t do a lot of long form reading on the Internet – Twitter 140 characters.
- Tackle a book or extensive essay; it will focus your mind, and stimulate the brain.
- Reader’s lead, and leaders read.
- 2 Timothy 4:13 “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
- What are you reading this summer?
- The Discipline of Recreation
- Recreation includes play, having fun, working out, eating right, paint, guitar, fish, even golf.
- There is a difference between amusement and recreation … a unique kind of ‘tired.’
- Ephesians 2:10 you are “created to create.”
- We are not just a consumer, but also a creator.
- What kind of life-giving recreation will you enjoy this summer?
- The Discipline of Relationships
- Maybe the most important practice. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
- The Trinity is in relationship.
- Online Facebook relationships don’t cut it. We sometimes get our identity from Facebook/social media.
- Who are the 4 or 5 in-depth relationships that are restorative? Seek these people out and put them on your calendar.
- They are a guardrail to going off the deep end, and provide protection from a loss of perspective.
- With whom will you find life through investing in healthy relationships this summer?
But in case you leave this school year in a place of deep discouragement, or even a sense of failure, I am reminded of a story …
The Crooked Kiss
Dr. Richard Selzer performed a difficult surgery on a young woman’s face, accidentally cutting a nerve causing her mouth to droop. In the recovery room she asked, “Will my mouth always be like this?” “Yes,” he said, “it will be. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nodded and was silent. But her young husband smiled. “I like it,” he said. “It is kind of cute.” Then he bent to kiss her crooked mouth, and the Dr. was so close he saw how her husband twisted his own lips to accommodate her, to show her that their kiss still worked.”
Living from your heart is not easy. Your journey to Why will be filled with trouble, even pain. I remind you of the beauty of your heart, and of the gospel. Jesus twists his own lips to accommodate yours, to show you that your kiss still works. You are a valuable part of God’s plan for the students in your world.
Guard your heart, discover your Why, change the world.
 Thanks to Chuck Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, and John Ortberg, Soul-Keeping.
 Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Thanks to Kimberly Inskeep, President and Chief Culture Officer at Carol Anderson by Invitation (CAbi) who introduced me to Sinek and asking why before what.
 May I suggest Donald Miller, Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story, for your reading?
 Thanks to Michael Hyatt. http://michaelhyatt.com/the-four-disciplines-of-the-heart.html.
 See Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, chapter one, “Nothing.”
Richard Swenson, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.
 Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.
 Thanks to Mike Yaconelli, from whom I first heard this story. Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.
College Finals and a Puppy Party December 13, 2010
The bad economy and a scary job market add to already stressed out college students. Silly, fun, and hilarious extra-curricular events plus greater attention to the mental health of emerging adults is the antidote and preventative medicine that colleges across the country employ to take a bit of the pressure off. One positive alternative to more alcohol and drugs to relieve stress …
On a lawn at the Claremont campus, two fenced pens were set up, one with six bunnies and the other with 10 puppies. Over two hours, about 300 students took turns climbing inside and playing with the animals at the student-organized event.
I wonder about the stress level the puppies endured …
The American College Health Association estimates 40 percent of male students and half of female students report feeling so depressed that, at least once in the past year, it interfered with their day-to-day functioning.
Is it possible that helicopter parents rob their midadolescents of the opportunities to develop important life skills that include managing time, stress, and relationships? High School life at its best includes supportive parents who are present yet allow their children to face and navigate the inevitable pressures of deciding how to prioritize and eliminate the unimportant from the necessary.
Some scholars note that social media, including Facebook and Twitter, create their own frustrating and numbing sense of anxiety. One professor invites his students to abstain from all social media during the duration of his semester course, journaling their experience. There is good advice and tips for reducing social media stress from mashable.com.
We are all better off if, during this Christmas season, we slow down, disconnect appropriately, and focus on what matters most.
Jim Liebelts Youth Culture Watch: Kids Texting in Class is the New Normal September 15, 2010
What we do is often more powerful than what we say. It is so tempting to pick the phone up and check email or a text while driving, but we usually “get what we are.”
Getting More Kids Riding to School July 3, 2010
How did you get to school as a kid? I remember both walking and riding my bike, but also weathered a short season on the bus. The Department of Transportation reports that in 1969 about 50% of children rode or walked to school, while today barely 13% do. Parents’ fear, bike-unfriendly streets, and distance are reasons given for the decline. Drive, walk, or ride past schools as they start today, but be careful, because their driveways [originally designed for a handful of cars] are packed with impatient and speedy parents dropping their kids off. Riding and walking are healthy alternatives to the crush of cars, helping kids not only slow down but get in shape.
Michelle Hamilton, in the recent issue of Bicycling Magazine, writes that it is possible to get more kids out of cars and riding more between home and school. Here are a couple examples Hamilton highlights:
- Alpine Elementary School in Alpine, Utah received a $12,000 grant from Safe Routes to School to partner with their city, adding “crosswalks, school-zone signs and bike racks, and organized parent-led biking and walking groups – key components in easing parents’ fears.” The number of kids getting out of cars and onto bikes or their own two feet increased from 32 to 50 percent.
- Starkville, Mississippi is stripping bike lanes from all its sub-divisions to city schools.
- Taylor, Texas is in the process of completing a network of trails connecting city institutions for ease of riding and walking.
- The League of American Bicyclist’s (LAB) Bicycle Friendly Community program increased their program from 48 to 140 cities in the last five years.
- Michelle Obama is encouraging more kids to walk and ride to school through her Let’s Move initiative.
- Ray LaHood, U.S. secretary of transportation, is determined to integrate the needs of bicyclists into all federally funded road projects.
Here are six ways Hamilton suggests cities and individuals can get more kids riding to school:
- Make it a group effort – with city government, parents’ groups, neighborhood coalitions, and bike clubs working together.
- Champion the cause – it takes an individual to step up in any city and make it happen.
- Get help – explore available grants listed at SRTS’s guide [saferoutesinfo.org/guide/steps/index.cfm].
- Use incentive programs – gifts made available by schools for miles ridden or walked, potentially combining incentives with support of worthy causes.
- Involve kids – using students as safety officers, with parental or school supervision.
- Educate – by holding education classes for kids and parents. One school launched a “drive-safely” campaign and lowered the percentage of parents exceeding the 25-mph speed limit from 59 to 21 percent.
Changing mindsets and lifestyles takes lots of time, but cities across the country are discovering the joy of using their own power to get to and from school. Get out and ride, and take your kids along!
The meaning of the Sabbath – latimes.com May 3, 2010
This article affirms some of my thoughts in the previous post. I’m trying to recapture what it means to pursue downtime in appropriate measures.
Fact: Distracted driving causes an estimated 6,000 fatalities each year in the U.S., and some of the more common distractions include texting, phoning or fiddling with a GPS.
Fact: An estimated 500,000 people are injured each year by distracted drivers.
I’ve made a vow to not pick up my cell phone while driving and have not been completely successful, but am making progress. Since I do a fair amount of road biking I’ve grown familiar with what it looks like for a driver to be distracted while fiddling with tech gadgets. I know I will be the big loser in any confrontation with a car.
The featured cop in this article waxes philosophical about the reasons he thinks people refuse to put down their phones and obey the intuitively practical need for the hands free law–he states that “people don’t like down time.” This speaks to a deeper issue–we may have allowed the ability of technology to keep us connected to determine our pace of life. We are more hurried, fragmented, and anxious about productivity than ever. One key to the effective, efficient, and overall healthy use of technology is an internal ability to know when it is appropriate to turn it off and disconnect. Adequate downtime is vital to productive and healthy uptime.
See also–teenagers want help to stop texting: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/30/earlyshow/main6447065.shtml
Facebook study shows college students paint the story of idealized life February 17, 2010
“It was really interesting to see the visual worlds that students construct for themselves,” said Mendelson. “It’s an argument to each other of the life they wish for and idealize.”
Also notable was what was missing from the photos: family members, especially older family members, and anything related to academics such as studying or going to class.
“The photos are not about the reality of college, but rather building this idealized college experience,” said Papacharissi.
Frontline: digital_nation – life on the virtual frontier February 3, 2010
This is a great resource for parents, educators, coaches, youth workers, and anyone who cares about not only the way kids are accessing technology, but its impact on all of us. There is a parent quiz helping you discover your digital parenting style. There are also helpful digital workshops for parents and educators. The report is created and produced by award winning Rachel Dretzin, who is joined by commentator Douglas Rushkoff – a leading thinker and writer on the digital revolution.
You can watch the entire show online and also access Rachel Dretzin’s previous documentary, Growing Up Online.
The documentary did not supply many solutions to the very real challenges presented by our digital age, but it did leave two significant suggestions.
- It is vital we not fear technology but instead continually ask ourselves a key question: what is the impact technology is having on us, the user?
- Second, we must set boundaries for ourselves and our children for when, where, and for how long we will be connected to technology. There is a time to shut it off.
Generation M2 – media for 8-18 year olds January 21, 2010
The Kaiser Family Foundation has just released their new and long-anticipated report on the use of media by teenagers. It is a load to wade through but Anne Collier has given us a sharp summary and a caution about its findings.
Get the full report and other documents here: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.