Posted by: Tom Gaddis | August 13, 2010

Am I Making a Difference and Guilt Relief

I was enjoying a cappuccino at a local coffee house this morning when a title in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye: “The Tyranny of the Clock.”

In thinking about why I was drawn to this article, I can pick from multiple reasons:

1)      The article gave me refuge and distraction from the screaming coffee grinder— torturing innocent beans more than grinding them.

2)      The article gave me distance from the last article about my tax dollars helping research how Methamphetamine enhances the motivation of female rat’s sexual behavior— no doubt, a burning issue for you too.

3)      The article title held the promise of some guilt relief.

Let me explain why I choose door number three. It’s because I’m pretty consistently running three quarts low on assurance that I’m spending my time—my day, my week, my life—as wisely as I could.

I’m a person who packs around a low-grade guilt that occasionally makes it way to the surface like undigested cucumbers. The other night was one of those times.

After losing the debate on whether to read or watch TV, I was settling in for an episode of Law and Order, only to be upended by one cops remark to her partner, “We do this because we want to make a difference!”

Dang! I hadn’t even gotten to the Order part and was sent on a journey to the center of my weirdness and guilt, setting off a reflux of questions: Am I making a difference? Do I really need to be watching TV right now? Are my days counting for something?

And then finally, will someday there be a memorial service for me with the chief accolade: “Tom…well let’s see…hmmm…he had a high bowling score and he loved Law and Order?”

Do you ever feel this way or am I the worst neurotic about these kinds of things that I know?

Well, back to the article. Bill Kauffman reviewing Howard Mansfield’s new tome Turn and Jump calls Mansfield “a critic of the rushed life.”

Concluding his appraisal, Kauffman caps off the review with a vivid quote from the author: “Time collapses in an old graveyard.”

Then commenting on this—our book reviewer does a bit of good writing himself with head-clearing words: “All of us—whether our wrists are encircled by a Timex, a Rolex or a hospital ID—will learn this soon enough.”

Alas, there was no help here that I couldn’t find in Psalm 90:12. But I wonder if this uneasiness about clock wasting isn’t a God thing? Could these unsettling episodes be yet another of His reminders to do the math—subtraction mostly—and gain a heart of wisdom that life is short so spend it carefully?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | August 4, 2010

Do You Need a Vacation From Your Vacation?

About two weeks ago Tom and I snuck away to a friend’s cabin at Hume Lake. It is one of our ways to obey Mark 6:31, “And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a quiet place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” We needed to obey the first part of this verse in order to get relief from the second.

I knew we were long overdue for a short sabbatical when we slept most of the first two days. Slowly the weight of the last year of ministry dissipated, and the year before us was order to a starting date three weeks away on the calendar.

We quickly settled into our routine of quiet prayer and reading before the rest of the human world woke around us. By the time the people noises joined the bird chatter, Tom had usually completed his run around the lake, and I had breakfast cooking.

Our morning discussions over the latest book we were reading together happened over a third cup of coffee on our large deck or at one of the outdoor tables at the Hume coffee shop.

Other vacations spent at Hume have not always been so peaceful. In the past, we’ve had kids and friends with us—fun, but more busy than peaceful. This year we left the two youngest at home to house-sit and maintain their jobs of gardening and ice-cream scooping at Cold Stone. Without them, we still canoed, swam, and bought our coffee and malts from the cash Tom found on the bottom of the lake—a result of high school kids swimming with loose change in their open swimsuit pockets.

We’ve not always planned our vacations well. Often our vacations take the form of escape with lots of activities thrown in that are fun and designed to bond us as a family, but not always restful. As we grow older, I’m viewing our vacations as more of a short sabbatical rather than a busy diversion from a crowded life of ministry. This post is simply my reminder to:

  1. Schedule more than one week of vacation at a time. It takes almost a week to unwind and another few days are needed to transition back into work mode. The middle days are for refreshing and renewal. This summer we scheduled three weeks in a row of vacation time.
  2. Reserve part of our vacation for just the two of us to enjoy—long days strung together without interruptions or responsibilities. Then move on to “people time”—enjoying family and friends. After our week at Hume Lake, we headed to Shell Beach, an ocean community, where we can connect with family and friends and still find quiet days to spend together.

How do you structure your vacation time for rest and refreshing with the Lord? What has, or hasn’t, worked for you?

Because I’m still on vacation and avoiding work, I’ve published this post on both my Holy in the Daily blog and our Sabbath and Sabbatical blog.
Posted by: Susan Gaddis | July 1, 2010

5 Questions to Consider When Planning a Sabbatical

What does one do on a sabbatical? What do you want to accomplish during your time away from work? Here are 5 questions from Robert Levine’s book, Power Sabbatical, to help you determine your goals when planning a sabbatical.

1. Do you have weaknesses you would like to work on during your sabbatical?

2. Do you want to start or finish a personal project during a sabbatical?

3. How would you like your life to have more meaning? What kind of practical steps would you take on sabbatical to start making this happen?

4. If you were told you only had one year to live, what would you do?

5. What causes you to pause and reflect when reading, watching a movie, or speaking to people? What causes you to picture yourself differently?

These are only a few of the questions whose answers can help you plan your sabbatical. The last thing you want to feel when you go back to work is that you wasted your time away. Be wise. Think through your options and desires. And—happy planning!

Posted by: Tom Gaddis | June 24, 2010

Are You Stressed Out?

Are you stressed out? The other day I took a stress test and utterly failed. It is perhaps the most accurate assessment of stress that I have ever taken.

Let me ask you–are you under stress? Or more precisely, just how much stress are you under at this very moment?

That said, take this Stress Test. It is absolutely accurate in its specific measurement for each person who takes it. If you fail, you need to seriously consider taking a vacation or a sabbatical.

Posted by: Tom Gaddis | June 17, 2010

Confessions of a Doer

Seems I’ve always seen people in one of three ways—thinkers, feelers, or doers. Simple, I know, and not entirely accurate, because people are complicated—never neatly fitting into categories.

I’m a doer. I love getting things done and thrive on motion. My patron saint is St. Caffeine who helps me do all I can do. My mantra—courtesy of NIKE: Just do it!

All this was again confirmed to me a few days ago by someone asking me what is it I like to do when not working? My reply— was awkward and unsure like stringing beads with my left hand—sailing, scuba diving, tennis, running at the gym, basketball, motorcycle riding, swimming, skiing, traveling, and hunting.

Hearing my own reply made me realize that while I’m not ADHD, I am a card-carrying, board certified doer. Most of my pastor friends have their weekend messages done on Wednesday or Friday—but not me. I’m still working on them early Sunday morning. Doing is to blame. I get antsy and so leave the books, research, thinking, and go after some project—a mouse to trap, a deck to paint, a graduation to attend. My deadlines look like those people who should never wear spandex—stretching out beyond the seemly. O help me St. Caffeine.

So my confession is that as a doer I find rest hard. Even writing this post has found me up fiddling with the TV, or trying to find out why the hawk outside is distressed, or going out on the patio to find something to do. Crazy weird.

So I suspect you “feelers” and “thinkers” have it easier. Doesn’t living a life of rest, devotions, and praying come easier for you? Don’t you already have your foot in the door—paused to think though a situation or parked long enough to tune into those inner feelings?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | June 3, 2010

How Do You Touch Holy Time?

Iona Abbey, Scotland

Did you know that the first sacred thing recorded in the Bible is not a person, place, or object? It is a day. God called the first six days of creation good, but the seventh day was not called good. It was called holy.

I understand a holy place. I have stood on the holy isle of Iona and felt the sacred all around me. I know holy people—folks that radiate the grace of God and speak in ways that pull me closer to what I know is true. Sacred objects can be found in any church. Places, people, and things can all be touched, but a holy day—how does one touch time? How does one honor the Holy in a span of time?

Those questions seem to pull rules and regulations out of any person wanting to keep holy time. Yet, God gave very few rules about honoring the Sabbath. He just told us to observe it by not working. God didn’t even really define work. He just said not to labor. I find that very liberating. What seems like work to me—think folding laundry—may be something you find restful.

God established Sabbath at creation. He later confirmed it with a command. Later, Jesus affirmed Sabbath by taking it out of the clutches of the Pharisees so the followers of the Lord of the Sabbath could again practice it free of rules and regulations.

Far more than a conviction, Sabbath is commanded of us. It requires us to say no to work-time and yes to God-time. Seems like a God ordained holy/day to me! Yet, Sabbath keeping is still one of those 10 commandments that all of us break either by our actions or heart attitude.

Why do you think we treat the Sabbath command as optional?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | May 27, 2010

Why You Need a Sabbath Even When You Don’t Have Time

Sabbath is an experienced based decision–not necessarily a rational choice. You can research the subject of a Sabbath break and agree that it is a great idea, but like so many other things that add meaning and value to your life, you just have to do it to learn what you really need to know. Comprehending the benefits of a God cushioned day of rest only comes after the body and soul have “done” Sabbath.

You can study all about horses, but never experience what it is to ride a horse until your bottom rests on the saddle and movement responds to your hand upon the reins. An apple pie looks luscious, but eating a slice will tell you if it is an experience worth repeating.  It is the same with committing to a Sabbath day of rest.

Recently I read two articles interviewing 12 men and 9 women concerning the amount of time they work compared to days devoted to time off. Their comments reveal that on their way to building successful companies, burnout remains a future reality for the majority.  Most acknowledge they need to take more time off, but neglect to schedule such a luxury as Sabbath into their busy schedules.

What does your future hold if you fail to plan a day of rest each week into your schedule? Will you be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor if you avoid a day to refresh and take care of the engine that is your body, soul, and spirit?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | May 20, 2010

How Do You Keep Your God-focus In a Complex Culture?

How do we keep our focus on God in a culture that is complex, fast-moving, and complicated? Even our church culture mimics the pace of the rest of society.

There always seems to be another service, mission trip, youth event, fund-raiser, Bible study, nursery duty, or worship practice demanding our time. Each of these activities is simply an activity—a good, spiritually enriching activity, but an activity none the less. Finding space for God as the center from which all life and activity originates doesn’t come easy.

In her book, Rest, Living in Sabbath Simplicity, Keri Wyatt Kent makes the case for practicing Sabbath with this statement, “In an ever-increasingly demanding world filled with complex relationships, technology, and dynamics, resulting in an overwhelming need to compartmentalize our lives, the strength and vitality provided by Sabbath-keeping allow us to respond with God at our core, which is exactly where God deserves to be.”

Keeping one day as your Sabbath allows you time to breathe God. It adjusts your posture to be one of God-standing with upright purpose and motives. This time of rest and refocusing allows you to enter your week with an inner resolve and sense of the necessary while discerning the optional.

How has Sabbath keeping helped you with your God-focus?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | May 13, 2010

Taking Wing From All the “Oughts”

In his book, The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, Mark Buchanan states, “This is Sabbath’s golden rule, the one rule to which all other rules distill. Stop doing what you ought to do. There are six days to do what you ought. Six days to be caught in the web of economic and political and social necessity. And then one day to take wing.”

This week we took two days to ignore what we ought to do and just played with some old friends from Fresno. Brad and Cathy Davis came over to visit, bar-b-que, talk, eat lunch at Dorns in Morro Bay, talk, hang out at Cafe’ Andreini in the old Village of Arroyo Grande, talk, and mop up our hallway and rooms flooded by an overflowing toilet at 1:00 a.m. And oh, talk some more.

Sometimes Sabbath is wasting time with old friends. The mental space that comes from ignoring your usual routine and doing what you normally don’t have time to do provides unexpected rest and laughter at overflowing toilets.

What have you done lately to take wing?

Posted by: Susan Gaddis | May 6, 2010

One Cup at a Time at Philz Coffee

Recently I traveled up to San Francisco to work with a group called Because Justice Matters. It was quite a weekend. As our parting tribute to San Francisco, my friends and I headed over to Philz Coffee for the best coffee in the city. Philz Coffee makes coffee one cup at a time. It is awesome!

According to their website, “Philz Coffee in San Francisco has developed a devoted following, and for good reason. The twenty blends that are now available by the pound are the result of 25 years of coffee alchemy and invention.”

Each cup of coffee is custom blended, ground and created as an individual coffee experience. The bartender asks you if you want cream or sugar, or anything resembling a latte, cappuccino or other normal coffee creation, but the result is beyond “normal.” Each individual cup is filtered and created right in front of you, and if you don’t like the results, the bartender will continue creating until you do.

My drink was very smooth and didn’t have that acid or burnt taste I sometimes find in coffee. Philz claims that, “the amount of beans we put into each cup is equivalent to 3 cups of your normal coffee so you will be as high as a plane!”

Seemed to have worked, because I didn’t need a second cup to send me on my way home to Atascadero.

To find a Philz Coffee the next time you take a Sabbatical or sabbath in the San Francisco area, check out their locations and maps. You will thank me for the recommendation.

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