Archives For Life

River

By Nate LaClaire —  April 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

I know it’s the wrong time of year for this, but do you recall the Joni Mitchell song, River?

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Somehow that song resonates with me right now.

I’m so hard to handle
I’m selfish and I’m sad
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

There’s no “baby” in my story, but I’m hard to handle, selfish, and sad. And “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

This post is the first part of a series. Stay tuned for more information.

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Setting Goals

By Nate LaClaire —  August 1, 2012 — Leave a comment

Goals. So many of us have some hazy ideas that we refer to as goals, but how many of us accomplish them? How many of us even go so far as to turn them into something solid and truly commit to them? We say things like, “my goal is to lose weight,” or, “my goal is to visit Rome,” but somehow we never make it. Why? In some cases, we are afraid. At least that’s been my experience. The thought of reaching our goals scares us, whether because of the unknown “what comes next” or simply because as awesome as the goal sounds, it’s something new and frightening. In other cases, we just don’t do what is needed to accomplish the goal, including solidifying what exactly our goal is.

Michael Hyatt has covered the topic of goal writing from various angles. He says that goals should be S. M. A. R. T.:

  • Specific – define exactly what you want to accomplish with as much specificity as possible
  • Measurable – for example, “lose 20 pounds” not “lose some weight”
  • Actionable – start it with a verb
  • Realistic – yes, you want to push yourself, but don’t set the bar so high that you can’t possibly achieve it
  • Time-bound – give yourself a deadline

Michael also says that goals should be written down and made public. This gives you accountability. Maybe you share your goals with an accountability partner, your spouse, your family, or maybe with the whole world, but publicize them somehow.

I’m terrible at setting goals and worse at accomplishing the ones that I do set. I could leave it at that and continue “spinning my wheels” and never accomplish anything. After all, I’m bad at it. It’s just the way I am.

I’ve chosen to not do that, though. Goal #1: prepare a list of goals for the next year and revise my “contract with myself” by August 1 (I created this goal on 7/18). The list of goals should prepare me for the undertaking I’ve recently committed myself to and for future success. Goal accomplished!

I will be announcing here more about that undertaking in the next few of weeks. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’ve decided that I’m not going to allow it to become one of those things that I “never got around to.”

I’ll also be detailing at least some of my goals and discussing portions of my contract on my blog in the near future. The focus of my blog going forward (Faith, Life, Intentional Living) is directly related to my contract and my goals. Some of the goals and portions of my contract are between me, God, and my accountability partner, but the rest will be public. I’ll need your help staying on track.

By the way, I’ve set another goal: lose 6 pounds by August 20, 2012 (my 31st birthday), by using the Lose It app to ensure that my caloric intake stays within a daily budget and exercising at least 30 minutes daily. It’s specific (what and how), measurable (an exact quantity), actionable (lose), realistic (2 pounds per week, based on my current weight, is easily accomplishable), and time-bound (August 20). That’s step one in a larger health-related goal, but we’ll talk about that later.

What about you? Please share your experience with goal setting and/or a S. M. A. R. T. goal that you have set.

How do you define success? In The Ultimate Journey, Jim Stovall’s third novel following the life of Jason Stevens, the reader takes a look at this question through the life of Jason’s grandfather, Red. As Jason and his new bride, Alexia, begin their journey together, we are given a glimpse into true success through the eyes of Red’s personal chauffeur and through Red’s diary. This is done using the 12 gifts from Stovall’s first novel, The Ultimate Gift, as the basis.

Like The Ultimate Gift, I found this book inspiring. Stovall uses a beautiful and touching story to give a timeless message to the reader about the meaning of life and how to find true success. You will laugh and you will cry. We are reminded on multiple occasions of Alexia’s daughter, Emily, who brought she and Jason together in the first novel. We are also reminded of many moments from the first novel and even given new insight into some of what took place in the same.

I have only read the first and third novels in this series, but I am looking forward to reading the second also. I encourage you to read all three as well. You will be touched, you will be inspired, and maybe you will become a better person because of it.

The audiobook was read by Paul Michael, who also narrated A Tale of Three Kings. As with the other book, he did an excellent job. I became immersed in the story as I listened because of his reading. The production quality was also very good. Another great release from christianaudio.

“Should I trust the advice of my non-Christian parents?”

“If I’m not called to be a minister, can my life count for Christ?”

“How do I teach my children humility without harming their self-esteem?”

“How do I know if I’m in love?”

These, in a nutshell, are just a few of the 171 questions that pastor and best-selling author Max Lucado answers in his most recent book, Max On Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions. Unwaveringly using the Bible as foundation, Max provides answers to questions that have been asked of him via letters, emails, and even on Dunkin Donuts napkins over his 25 years of writing and ministry, adding illustrations from his life when applicable. Scripture and topical indexes are provided, allowing one to use the book as a reference.

I found this book encouraging and enlightening. I love reading Max Lucado’s writing and listening to and watching his messages and this book didn’t disappoint. With his signature conversational style he delivers at times profound insights and at other times gentle reminders. He doesn’t shy away from taking a harsh tone when it is needed, but delivers most of his answers in the encouraging tone for which he is known and loved. I urge you to read this book from cover to cover because it is too good to just leave on your bookshelf to be used as reference, but I also encourage you to keep it on your shelf after its first reading to be used in times of need.

A nice week

By Nate LaClaire —  May 14, 2010 — 2 Comments

It’s been almost three weeks since the end of Digital Detox Week and I’ve yet to write about my experiences during my break from social media and TV. The week was incredibly refreshing and it gave me a glimpse of a life free from the distractions of my consumer habits. On the first day, I sat down and began a list of “best practices” that I would like to put into action in order to bring my life in line with what I believe God wants my life to look like. As the week proceeded, I revisited the list, making changes based on God’s leading. After a couple more weeks of changes, I’m ready to begin implementing the list this week. I’m really not sure if I will be able to implement everything, but I am determined to try (with Yoda’s voice in my head: “do or do not, there is no try”). Part of me is looking forward to the challenge, while part of me recognizes the foolishness of it. With much prayer, I venture forward.

Taking a Break

By Nate LaClaire —  April 16, 2010 — 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I spend my time. It seems that I find myself wasting a lot of time on Facebook or in front of the TV (or both simultaneously) or doing other things that drain me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. After reading and contemplating a blog post by Tony Steward, I’ve decided to follow the example of Michael Hyatt and combine it with a suggestion from my good friend Joanna Hoyt. Consequently, I’m observing TV Turnoff Week (aka Digital Detox Week), April 19-25, 2010, by turning off the TV, staying away from Internet video, and taking a break from social media, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social sites/tools. Since my work involves social media, I will have to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and some other social media sites for business purposes, but will use them for absolutely nothing personal and will limit my time on them as much as possible. I’m also observing a blog silence during the week, but that won’t impact my life much because of the (lack of) frequency with which I generally post to my blog.

I’m looking forward to the break and am contemplating how my life will change after April 25.

Would you like to join me? Comment below and let us know what you’re giving up as part of your digital detox from April 19 to 25.

See you on the other end!

Your Whole Self

By Nate LaClaire —  October 27, 2009 — 4 Comments

Several years ago, Christian singer Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay) challenged readers of Relevant Magazine to bring our whole selves into our relationships. I must admit that when I first read his article, entitled Your Whole Self, certain aspects turned me off. However, on closer inspection the truths found within overpowered the negatives.

There is a weight to the Gospel. There is a mass connected to the story of redemption. It is in the dark places – the addictions to pornography, alcohol, drugs, power and control. It is in our propensity to blame and abuse each other, our greed and our depravity. It is the substance of these things that gives us a place to speak about the slow road to recovery… In our church culture, there are behavioral codes set in place to give the appearance of victory. There are things that church people cannot talk about. There are activities that church people do not engage in…. There is not a darkness or a shadow to speak of… Because we have chosen to speak only about the victory from these things, we are left to promote a gospel that is feeble and moveable at best… Our Gospel is unbelievable because it is only half a Gospel. It is the resurrection without any signs of the crucifixion. I believe there are profound reasons why Jesus still carried the scars from the nails on His hands when He appeared to His friends. He was bringing the entire Gospel to His disciples…

The full article is available here.

Last winter, a series of events reminded me of his article. I was reminded of the importance of being authentic. It is only in our total authenticity that we are able to testify to what the Lord has done for us. Too often we Christians give an air of perfection. Several years ago, I heard a testimony that the giver was saved from a life of “terrible sin” at the age of five and had lived for Christ ever since. Twenty years of the person’s life was missing. Twenty years of struggle, twenty years of growth. As someone who was at that point very much teetering on the edge, suffering from addictive behaviors and very nearly ready to give in at any moment, the testimony left me with a sour taste in my mouth. “Terrible sin at the age of five,” I thought, “you don’t know terrible sin – I’ll show you terrible sin!” At the same time, I knew better than to believe that someone so close to my own age hadn’t struggled over the previous 10-15 years with certain sins that were very much a reality to me. It seemed insincere. And yet, that testimony reflects the norm for our sterilized church culture. In fact, if you had asked me yesterday you probably would have heard a similar response: saved somewhere around the age of five, forgiven for my sins, now I’m a new man and look forward to eternal communion with my Savior. Is it untrue? No, not at all. I believe that I was forgiven for my sins once and forever when I accepted Christ at around the age of five, but there is so much more to my story. The fact that I don’t have much of a pre-conversion story (due to my young age at the time) doesn’t mean that God hasn’t been working in my life.

Funny thing about sterility: it tremendously inhibits the ability to reproduce/multiply/spread the Word. Seeds that aren’t planted will never grow, stories that aren’t told will never inspire, and pain that is never shared will never give hope to another hurting soul.

So, what now? I’m going to work harder to bring my whole self into my relationships. It might hurt – probably will – but anything else is a lie and will inhibit my ability to serve Christ.

PS Despite my initial reaction, I don’t question for a moment that a five-year-old can be saved from a life of “terrible sin.” All sin is terrible. Life in sin is terrible. I am confident that the person giving that testimony was referring to this fact. I don’t mean to suggest that my own sins have been worse than anyone else’s, but rather that our struggles as redeemed children of God are very much realities that we should embrace in the name of authenticity. Failing to do so shortchanges those around us and fails to give God the glory for the progress He has made in our lives.

The Full Plate Diet

By Nate LaClaire —  October 15, 2009 — 2 Comments

As a member of Medi-Share, I was invited back in July to request a free advance viewing copy of a book being published this January by the Lifestyle Center of America called The Full Plate Diet. Since I’ve been gaining weight like it’s going out of style and since I’ve also been feeling miserable for months and wanting a change, I jumped at the offer. Knowing a little bit about LCA already, I had a feeling that this was not your average diet book. I was right. The book promotes a change in thinking: a fully sustainable high-fiber diet. Who would have thought that the nutrient that experts are promoting for its digestive health benefits will also help you lose weight? Okay – yeah, I already knew that. Actually, I already eat a lot of high-fiber foods, although when I’m not ingesting high-fiber foods I’m ingesting absolute trash, so I don’t think that my diet counts as high-fiber, nutritious, or even safe. Hmm…

Back to the book: nice, colorful pictures. Lots of them. Easy-to-understand concepts introduced using language that won’t make you feel stupid and on pages containing a healthy amount of whitespace. And, the diet itself isn’t a crash-and-burn diet, but a gradual ascent into a sustainable lifestyle of healthy eating. Although the book promotes vegetarian eating, the authors stress that the diet itself is not vegetarian. If you like meat, eat it. Just make sure that you get your fiber, too. The book provides lots of comparisons between raw foods (like the “Top 5 Vegetables for Your Diet”) as well as Fiber Face Offs, which show you how to take a yummy low-fiber dish and make it a high-fiber one (know how to make a high-fiber bowl of tomato soup? I do now!). The book also features lots of good-looking recipes as well as tips for eating on the road.

So, why am I telling you this? First, because this is a great book that you will be able to get in print in January and can view in its entirety online for free today. Second, because starting today I’m diving in and adopting the book’s principles. I’m also beginning an exercise regimen. And, I’ll be posting regular updates about what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, etc. to my blog. Hopefully that final piece will keep me on track and perhaps even encourage someone else to do the same. After all, I’m living proof that just taking the stairs isn’t enough. :-) Join me for this voyage, won’t you?

The fun theory

By Nate LaClaire —  October 12, 2009 — 3 Comments

I generally choose the stairs over elevators, ramps, and escalators, but am amazed by the number of people who can walk (and/or need the exercise!) and don’t. I think VW is on to something here. Perhaps if we were to do the same thing in more places, we’d have healthier people. On the other hand, should we need to make using the stairs fun? Shouldn’t change for the better take place as a result of a person’s desire for betterment? On a deeper level, is a change for the better really a change for the better if it isn’t done on purpose? What do you think?

Also, do you take the stairs? Do you think that you would be more likely to do so if it was more fun?

Boasting About Tomorrow

By Nate LaClaire —  December 1, 2008 — Leave a comment

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes…Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Excerpted from James 4:13-17 (NIV)

Talk about convicting…