Intentional Living

Graveyard Spirals Kill

I am a pilot.  Though I haven’t flown for 14 years, I LOVE flying.  Sometimes on those beautiful middle Tennessee spring or fall days, when the sky is clear, the wind is minimal, and the sun is shining… I’ll look up in the sky and dream that I can be back up there.  Maybe one day.

The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work.  – Anonymous

So, why all the talk of flying?  Last night, during our discussion at about the importance of remaining connected to the body of believers in the church, I was reminded of the JFK Jr. airplane crash on July 16, 1999.  There is a full NTSB report of the crash here if you’re interested.  The cause of the crash was something pilots talk about a lot, which was a graveyard spiral caused by “failure to maintain control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation.”  As an airplane starts to make a turn, your body tells you “I’m turning” through the various wonderful God-given senses we have.  If the airplane is in a turn long enough, your body will adjust to the turn and given no other visual indicators (like on a dark night), it will feel like you’re flying straight and level.  One look at the altimeter will tell you that you’re descending (this happens in a turn).  Natural response?  Pull up!  But this only serves to tighten your turn, until you spiral into the ground, usually at an alarming rate.  At the point of impact, the NTSB estimated JFK Jr.’s plane was descending at 4,700 feet-per-minute.  In comparison, a standard descent in a commercial airliner is 500 fpm (and you feel it then too).

frightened_child

Like a graveyard spiral, so often through my day, my brain is giving me all sorts of messages on how to interpret what is going on around me.  These messages are influenced by my life experiences, my relationships, my overall body chemistry at that time (if I’m feeling physically or emotionally down, it is more difficult for me to interpret conflict accurately).  In the moment of confusion, I have two choices.

Choose the lie: “you’re not appreciated”, “wait until people find out who you really are”, “they’re laughing at you behind your back”, “Those guys are way better dads than you’ll ever be”)

lies and truth

image courtesy Cindy Bultema blog site

Choose Truth:  God has chosen me to be His own.  He has equipped me for life and godliness.  I am a new creation.  I am His servant, not the world’s.  I was bought with a price, and it cost me nothing – God’s perfect love and sovereignty will cast out all fear in me.

Which do I choose so often?  The lies… at least for a time.  Which is why it is so critical that I not do this life alone.  I MUST be in a community of people, growing, sharing, and BEING REAL.  As our pastor said during his message this Sunday in Hebrews, “ISOLATION KILLS”.

How do we pull out of the graveyard spiral of life?

1. Use your instruments – Focus on the truth, not what you feel like at that moment.  This will not be easy!  Use the instruments of faith, deep friendships, and Godly mentors.  Pilots have instruments in their plane before they fly.  Don’t wait for accountability.  Get it now.  Psalm 15:2, Psalm 25:5, Mark 9:24

2. Reduce power and level out – Often times, whatever is going on in your life is contributing to the chaos behind the lies.  Slow down, cancel extra engagements, get some rest, and eat right.  Even Jesus “got away” at times.  Matthew 14:23

3. Point your nose down – What?  We’re losing altitude and I have to point my nose down?!  YES!  It allows the plane to pickup speed, and thus have greater control over the airplane.  And in life, we need to give up control sometimes, submit to the Godly wisdom and guidance (sometimes through another person), and take ACTION on that guidance.  Trust in your shepherd.  Psalm 23

Are you in a graveyard spiral?  Are you tightening your turn by trying harder, putting a mask on, and isolating?  Get out of the spiral.  Trust God that it will be OK.  Put your faith in Jesus and not what the world says about you.

Back to the Future

I’m a big fan of the Michael J. Fox “Back to the Future” movies.  These were among the most popular movies of my teenage years.  A lot of perspective is gained as Michael’s character Marty McFly travels back in time to see his origins and possibly alter his future, and then eventually in the series, his future.

Back to the Future movie image

I’ve recently been taking part in a Facebook “Group Goal-Setting” community started by Jon Acuff called “30 Days of Hustle.”  In it, Jon is challenging every member from January 1 to January 30 to do something very specific and intentional toward a goal that we set forth on January 1.  I am SO excited about this.  With each day comes a new challenge.  I’m already behind, but will catch up.  Today’s challenge (for me anyway) is to cast the VISION for my goal.  So, I chose to describe this vision as an article written about me sometime in January… 2015.  Yes, next year!  Thought it would be fun to look back and see how my year would look when I hit these goals.  So, the following is written as an interview taking place next year.  Here we go:

January 8, 2015 – Looking back in 2014

As we sit in the office of Ken Raetz, a technology consultant living in the Nashville area, one of the things that stands out is the simplicity and neatness of his office space. No stacks of papers or books lying around. Just a clean workspace, and a notebook neatly laid out on his desk. Ken tells us this was not what life was like prior to the “Getting Things Done Revolution” that happened this past year. A self-proclaimed dreamer and tech-geek, Ken has always been fascinated by the idea of being “hyper-productive” in his personal and professional life.  He spends a lot of time reading about productivity methods.  About 2 years ago, Ken was introduced to the Getting Things Done methodology which began the transformation.  However, often he would get caught up in the mechanics of the organization and forget the “getting done” part of it. “Discipline has not been my strong suit,” says Ken. “So often, I start something in a very excited way, then drop off after a few months.  It gets too hard.” However, 2014 was to be different.  Why?  “Because I was tired of not getting the most important things done that I wanted to get done.  So, my goal in January was to put into habit a disciplined schedule that support both my personal and professional priorities,” he says.  Not surprising, 2014 brought a whole new level of discipline Ken thought would never happen.  Starting in January, Ken spent the first 30 Days putting in place the daily, weekly, and monthly schedule habits that would support him meeting the goals he had laid out for rest of the year. What has been the result?

– His personal faith in Jesus Christ is stronger than it has ever been.  He has shared the gospel with complete strangers, close friends, and family members, and has had the privilege of leading several people in a confession of faith in Christ and follow-up discipleship.

– He exercised 3-4x per week consistently, losing 10 pounds (which had not even been the goal).

– He rolled out a new service in his business in the first two months of the year, and it has proven to be the most successful work his team has done in years.  His clients love it!

– His relationship with his wife and kids has flourished, as he is spending regular time with them together and one-on-one.

 

Who is Ken most thankful to? “I have to say that God gave me a clear vision for what I was going to do in 2014, and I am very thankful for that.  And, He provided me a beautiful community of support through the Jon Acuff ’30 Days of Hustle’ Facebook group to encourage me along the way.”

What does Ken have planned for 2015? “Growing my business that I now have an ownership stake in (as of December, 2014).  And taking my wife on a wonderfully long 20th anniversary vacation.”  Now that sounds exciting!

Overcoming Barriers in 2014

I’m doing a lot of thinking about goal-setting in 2014.  Not “New Year’s Resolutions” or “wishes”.  Actual goal setting.  Achievable goals.  Meaningful goals.  Measureable goals.  Goals with a definite start and end.  In short… goals.  Thinking about the barriers I’ve had in the past to accomplishing these goals, I came up with the following barriers:

1. Fear – Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of not finishing well!

2. Apathy – I’m so lazy in many areas of my life, and so passionate and gung-ho in other areas. Overcoming apathy in the “hard things” is challenging.

3. People-approval – Sometimes I get so focused on feeling approved and accepted by others, that I’m not willing to risk and get outside of my comfort zone to do something, especially when I may “feel” rejected in the process.

4. Undisciplined mindset – Related to #2, I love generating ideas and find it difficult to follow them through. It is difficult for me to discipline my mind to do the hard work of “thinking and deciding” to move to the next step.

5. FINISHING – I have 20-30 unfinished books by my bedside. I have started and never finished many Bible studies. I have bought parenting guides that I never worked through. You get the picture. I keep wanting the next purchase to somehow solve my issue of finishing things, and finishing them well. Truth is, like losing weight, often the starting of a project is the most rewarding and possibly the easiest part of it. It is slogging through the details, overcoming the hurdles, and finishing that is tough. I want to do that this year!

There… I feel like I’ve opened up my journal to all of you. But that’s it. Those are my barriers.  What are your barriers?