It’s already August. Our trip to Swaziland leaves in less than ten weeks. What are we doing to prepare? A lot!
The most common question I get relates to money—how is my support-raising coming? I’m happy to brag on God. We were supposed to have $3,000 of the total $3,500 in our account by the end of July. Some goes to pay for the plane tickets. Some was to send to Children’s Hope Chest (CHC) so they could prepare for our arrival. For example, we will be delivering care packages to the children’s caretakers when we visit them in their homes. Since we have no real concept of what items are most needed and suitable, CHC will do the shopping for us, with funds we send now.
I was running errands around town, radio blaring, when the Doobie Brothers were interrupted by ad for an insurance company. My favorite station runs this ad a lot; you too may have heard it. It starts with an announcer asking, “What is your dream?” and then you hear different voices answering the question. The answers vary… keeping a roof over his family’s heads, learning to play her dad’s guitar, driving coast-to-coast…. Finally, the announcer promises that whatever our dream is, they can insure it.
I’ve heard this ad dozens of times, and it has always sort of bothered me, in a nagging, not-quite-right sort of way—sort of like noticing a picture frame that isn’t quite level. However, I never put my finger on it until a few days ago, when I had that “aha!” moment. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit prodding me.
I love the week between Christmas and the new year. All the Christmas preparations are over. We have enough leftovers in the fridge that I don’t have to cook unless I feel like it. The garden (and its weeds) is blanketed with snow. Chores are at a minimum. It’s a time to relax and reflect, to take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and clear my head of all to-do lists.
The end of the year is traditionally a time for assessing the year and resolving to better. (Have you ever noticed that we never seem to be satisfied with just maintaining the status quo?)
I’m impressed by those friends who have five, ten, and even twenty-year plans for their lives. I’m not that clairvoyant. But I do like to compare the ending year with the goals I made last January, and then look ahead to what I might accomplish in the coming year.
Who am I? What is important to me? What have I been up to recently (in terms of years), and what are my dreams?
Check out this photo from the early 1970’s of Pete (second from left) with his five siblings. Next month, for the first time ever, all six of them are all planning to get together, with their spouses, for a three-day family reunion. In addition, they’ve invited their dad (who will turn 90 later this year) and step-mom to join them. This is a Major Big Deal. One sister will be coming from Germany with her husband and one of their four kids. A brother and his wife are flying in from the east coast, and another brother-and-wife are coming from the west coast. Everyone is meeting here in Colorado.
Bucket lists seem to be proliferating everywhere. There are ones you can buy (1,000 Places to See Before You Die, for example) and ones you make yourself. A quick web search turned up some pretty comprehensive lists of ideas ranging from places to go, books to read, and adventures to have, to financial and material success, skills to learn, and career ambitions.
Most bucket lists contain goals like visiting the Taj Mahal, going backpacking in Yosemite, or seeing a solar eclipse—or we write down our hope to earn a college degree, get married and have kids. Those are great things to aspire to. In fact, I’ve already checked all of them off my own list, and I recommend them highly!
Most people make their list by consulting themselves. They may get inspiration from other sources—friends, books, websites, etc.—but ultimately, they decide what they want to do with their lives. As followers of Christ, we need to come at making a bucket list from a different perspective. After all, we are not our own. We have traded everything we are for the surpassing value of Jesus (Philippians 3:8). We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).