Category Archives: Family

Making the most of our time

We were very intentional with picking our week to visit Eli, our oldest, in Florida and hang out at with him at Disney World. He is doing a college internship there and his little “blue card” allowed us some nice discounts. Woo hoo!

We purposely avoided the week of Spring Break because EVERYONE would be there. But we also didn’t want to go after school let out for the Summer for the same reason. So we pulled the kids out of school and went the last week in April.

The theme parks were busy but not overly crowded. We got to do everything we wanted and never waited more than about 35-40 minutes. But one special feature made all the difference – Fast Pass!

Fast Pass is not unique to Disney World but it is free and very handy. Rather than wait in line you can get a Fast Pass and come back later to use a different entrance and save time. For example…

If it is 4:00 and a ride has a wait time of 50 minutes you can wait or get a Fast Pass. The Fast Pass will specify when to come back such as between 5:00 and 6:00. So you get the Fast Pass and then go do some others things before going back to use it.

With the Fast Pass you enter by way of a different line and it usually only takes about 10 minutes. This way you can do more and wait less.

I know what you’re thinking. “Where do I get a Fast Pass for the grocery store or my favorite restaurant?” Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

But my point is this: Because we were there for a limited time and wanted to participate in certain activities, we worked hard to make the most of our time.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. ~ Ephesians 5:15-17

Paul encourages the disciples in Ephesus to make the most of every day by doing what is important to the Lord. It means giving everything you have at that moment because you don’t know if you’ll get another opportunity.

None of us lives with the guarantee of tomorrow, and yet we tend to put off the most important stuff as if we’ll always have a tomorrow.

  • Expressing love to those closest to us
  • Extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us
  • Playing with our kids
  • Sharing the good news of God’s grace with those who don’t yet know Him

As a pastor, conducting funerals is not my favorite thing to do. It is a good opportunity to minister to people but the heartache and grief can be tough to handle at times. Yet, I’m always grateful for the reminder not to take life for granted. Each day is a gift from God to be lived for His glory.

If you knew that today would be your last day on earth, how would you live it?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children, Choices, Family, Glory of God, God, God's Will, Priorities

Friday Funny! ;-) Embarrassing Brynden

Parenting comes with its fair share of challenges, rewards and little perks. One of those little perks is embarrassing my kids whenever I get the chance. Now, just to be clear, there is a world of difference between embarrassing them and belittling them. I don’t believe it’s ever OK to belittle them.

Last week at Disney World I had fun embarrassing Brynden on two separate occasions. He is our youngest (12 y.o.) and the only one who had never been there so he purchased an autograph book and worked hard to meet as many Disney Characters as possible.

As he was meeting Minnie Mouse and getting her autograph I said (loud enough for everyone to hear): “Hey Brynden, don’t forget that Mickey said to give Minnie a kiss from him.” He turned all shades of red but gave her the kiss.

Brynden with Minnie Mouse

Then on our last day there we stood in line to meet three of the Disney Princesses. As Brynden was getting an autograph from Belle I said (again, rather loudly): “Hey Brynden, did you tell Belle that she is your favorite princess?” (Which is true) Once again, he turned all kinds of red and Belle played it up perfectly as you can tell from the picture below.

Brynden with Belle

What fun we had making special memories as a family. Hope you enjoy some memory-making with your family this weekend!

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children, Family, Funny, Humor, Just for fun, Laughter, Parenting

We did not get where we are on our own

Yesterday I blogged about our family packing up last week for a vacation to Florida. Our primary reason for going down was to see our oldest son who is working at Disney World as part of a college internship.

We spent three days at Disney theme parks, then a fourth day at Cocoa Beach and Downtown Disney (shopping stores outside the theme parks).

There were a few things that stuck out to me right away as good material for a blog post but I decided to ignore them and just enjoy being with my family.

It’s easy to get preoccupied and lose the moment. I’ve done that before with taking pictures or video. You get so focused on capturing the next pose that you forget to enjoy simply being with your family and taking it all in.

So I did a week of blogs before we left for Florida and just took time daily to respond to comments.

Then on the last day Susan mentioned that a certain event would make a good blog post and that I should blog about our trip. So I took a few minutes to jot down some ideas and then promptly put them aside.

Now that we’re home I want to do some blogs about our time in Florida because trips are a great source of new stories and it will be a great way to remember special moments of our trip.

My first observation is that we had help getting to Florida.

Of our four vehicles the newest is 15-years-old and our van, the vehicle we would use for such a trip, is 20-years-old. Since we don’t have a vehicle we trust to go that far (1000 miles) and we couldn’t afford to fly, we borrowed my father-in-law’s Honda van (pictured above).

As we soaked up all the sun and fun of being in Florida we were keenly aware that we did not get where we are on our own. And the same is true in our journey with God.

Stop and reflect for a moment on where you actually are in your journey and who has played or is playing a significant part. The older you are the longer the list will be.

Some encourage. Some comfort. Some teach. Some push. Some pray. Some challenge. Some inspire. All play a part in our journey.

We did not get where we are on our own!

Sharing the journey is not an optional pleasantry, but an essential necessity. It’s a God-designed part of our journey toward maturity in Christ.

Who has played a part in your journey? How can you thank them? How can you pray for them? What are you  waiting for?
***

P.S. – Thanks for the use of your van Dad Howard!

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Family, Fellowship, God, Gratitude, Loving others, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Immeasurably More!

Have you seen the new commercial by a well-known do-it-yourself store when a couple rushes into a big house where the walls are covered with nothing but white paper?

They are both carrying markers and when they draw the outline of an object on the blank wall it immediately pops into reality. A new appliance, some pieces of hardware, a new window or door.

As a guy with a carpentry background who struggles to complete remodeling projects on our old farm-house in a timely fashion I would love one of those magic markers.

But the point of the commercial is that this particular do-it-yourself store can take whatever you imagine and make it real. How cool is that?! But I’ve got one better.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul prays for them to be rooted and established in love and able to fully grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. Then he makes this amazing statement:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul has own unique way with words. How do you calculate “immeasurably more”? Whatever it is, God can do it with whatever we ask or imagine.

Obviously, this is not a promise to satisfy our own wants and desires. And our ability to imagine tends to grow smaller as we age. But in keeping with God’s kingdom purposes, what can you imagine God accomplishing?

  • Healing for a wreaked marriage?
  • Boldness to share the hope of Christ with those who don’t know Him?
  • Wisdom and grace for parents dealing with a rebellious child?
  • Real peace for a heart troubled with worry?
  • Freedom from addictions or sinful habits?
  • Better choices made by a rebellious child?
  • The hard-hearted person finally opening up to receive God’s gift of grace?
  • Character and integrity in those who serve in our government?
  • Courage to forgive those who have hurt us?
  • A renewed love of God for those who claim Jesus as Lord?

God delights to bring all manner of new life and restored hope because He loves us more than we can begin to fathom. The question is…

… what is it that we ask God for or imagine Him doing?

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Courage, Family, Forgiveness, Glory of God, Grace, Hope, Imagination, influence with the world, Love of God, Marriage, Parenting, Peace, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Trusting God

Life is a gift! Keep celebrating it!

A year ago today I posted a blog entitled Hope Springs Anew! It was celebrating the arrival of our first grandchild after a very difficult 72 hours due to Valerie having preeclampsia.

Grandma Alvey (my wife Susan) with Aaron Tyler Alvey.

Coming 7 weeks early he weighed only 3 pounds – 10 ounces. He spent several weeks in the hospital due to his size but was healthy and able to breathe on his own from the very beginning.

Few things in life are as precious or reflect God’s glory more powerfully than a newborn baby!

Yesterday, Aaron Tyler Alvey turned one year old and we are still celebrating God’s gift of life!

Unfortunately, Aaron’s dad – our son Sam - is out of the country with the Marines on training. But Susan flew out a couple of weeks ago to keep Valerie and Aaron company; and celebrate their birthdays (Valerie is a leap year baby)!

And it looks like he got his Daddy’s (and Grandpa Alvey’s) sweet tooth!

Whatever you’re doing today, make time to stop and love on your kids and grandkids!

Life is a gift! Keep celebrating it!

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children, Family, Glory of God, Life in General, Parenting

What giving up my wife for Lent has taught me

When people discuss what they gave up for Lent I mention that I gave up my wife… at least for part of it!

Earlier this week Susan flew out to San Diego to be with Valerie and Aaron – our daughter-in-law and grandson; since Sam, our #2 son, is gone for two months of training with the Marines.

So to help break up the long stretch for them, and soak up sunshine and warm weather for herself, Susan is spending three weeks out west. Kyrsten – one of our daughters – is with her for a week but will fly back next Monday.

Three weeks!

We’re also referring to it as The Great Experiment because in nearly 29 years of marriage and family life Susan has never been gone that long.

Will Susan be able to endure all the sunshine and warmth and uninterrupted time with Valerie and Aaron? Probably.

Will those of us back home in Indiana survive three weeks without the mama? More or less. It’s a toss-up as to who is missing Mom more – Brynden, our youngest (12 years old) or Thor – Susan’s Yorkie!

So what have we learned from The Great Experiment so far?

Fewer people in the house makes for:

  • less activity
  • less noise
  • less mess

No big surprise there. But I’ve also learned that it means I have to be more human.

While I care about everyone and usually ask how their day was, Susan is the one who is more emotionally engaged with them on a daily basis.

I can do crisis intervention, mediate conflicts, and general house maintenance. But I don’t really give myself to being engaged in the little, day-to-day things that make up most of life.

Sure I listen and even respond, but I’m not intentionally connecting on a deeper level.

So I’m learning that I need to be more emotionally available, more in tune, more engaged, more human.

I hadn’t realized how easy it is to come home from work and be here without really being here!

That might be status quo or normal for many guys/dads, but I think God has bigger plans for us. We have a more significant role to play in the lives of our family. We are to love as He loves and that begins with our family!

“No amount of success outside the home makes up for failure inside the home.”

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Family, Lent, Loving others, Marriage, Parenting

Pastors and their families at risk!

Last Sunday I blogged about prayer being an essential part of getting ready for church gatherings. Among other things I encouraged you to pray for pastors and their families.

Since then, I’ve come across some rather staggering statistics that I want to share in the hope that it will spark us to pray more earnestly for them.

      • 1500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
      • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
      •  70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
      • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
      • Over 50% of pastor’s wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
      • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
      • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
      • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.*

I know that reading statistics can at times be cold and distant, but please don’t rush past this information. It is staggering and it is very real. Don’t assume that your pastor and his family are different or immune to such struggles.

Pray for them daily and ask God to lead you into ways of encouraging them. It’s all part of being the family of God and sharing the journey!

* Research was compiled from The Barna Group, Focus on the Family, Fuller Seminary, and the Institute of Church Leadership Development.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Encouragement, Family, involvement with the church, Loving others, Pastor

Every Life is Beautiful

Hope… Forgiveness… Healing…

Three words that describe a movie Susan and I saw this past week as part of a special preview.

OCTOBER BABY is a coming of age story of a 19-year-old freshman named Hannah. Hannah has always felt like an outsider. Something is missing. Although she is an incredible stage actor with a lovable naivety, she has always had a deep-seated feeling that she has no right to exist.

Because of escalating health and psychological problems her parents reveal to her that she was adopted and was never told because of the shocking and heartbreaking circumstances surrounding her birth.

With her identity and world thrown into turmoil she sets out on a spring break road trip to New Orleans with her best friend Jason and a host of misfits piled into a decrepit VW minibus.

Everyone else is on the ride for good times, but Hannah is determined to use the opportunity to return to the city of her birth and find the answers she craves – something her overprotective father has forbidden her to do.

Hannah discovers that sometimes the truth can be more painful than a lie and she must choose between confronting her birth mother or returning home. Ultimately Hannah discovers the freedom she has always wanted and the true power of forgiveness.

It’s not very often that I can give a whole-heartedly endorsement of a movie but this is one of them. It hits the big screen in March so look for it at a theatre near you and pass the word. If the video below doesn’t play you can watch it here.

***

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Filed under Choices, Family, Forgiveness, Freedom, Grace, Hope

God of my… some things

At one time I trusted God with everything; my marriage, my family, my work, my friendships, etc. I was confident that His plans were better than my plans. Life and faith in God were simple and straight-forward.

But somewhere along the way things got out-of-hand.

  • Pressures of life began to squeeze our marriage and less time together meant less of a foundation to stand together against the various assaults that came at us. There were times when we were ready to throw in the towel and quit!
  • As the kids got bigger and ventured out into the world there were new struggles with kids that were cruel and situations that were unfair but beyond our control.
  • Unhealthy work environments began to sap my passion for ministry and without realizing it I slipped into “survival mode.”
  • And then there’s the issue of people! I know how messed up and hurtful human beings can be because I am one. Relationships that don’t get handled well don’t fix themselves or go away; they come back to bite you in the butt!

In short… life got messy and complicated!

What happens when our current faith in God gets trumped by our circumstances of life? Ancient believers referred to this experience as the “dark night of the soul” – a crisis of faith that either destroys our trust in God or drives us deeper into Him.

My first encounter with this was a bit daunting! But I’ve come to embrace this as a healthy and normal part of our journey with God. I’m learning not to dread such moments but to see them as an invitation from God to go deeper in my trust of Him.

The song God of My Everything by Bebo Norman has come to be a powerful reminder that no matter how complicated life gets or how out-of-control it might seem, I can still trust God with everything. If the video below doesn’t play then click here.

***

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Filed under Commitment, Doubt, Faith, Family, God, intimacy with the Lord, Life in General, Marriage, Music Video, Parenting, Trusting God, Work

Giving God what only you can give!

I remember waiting what seemed like an eternity to have kids. We had been trying for six years and the specialists gave us only a 5% chance of being able to have children. Yep, they were wrong!

And when Susan was pregnant with our second child I sincerely wondered how I could possibly love another one like I loved the first one. God mysteriously enlarges a parent’s heart!

Now with six of them I’m amazed at God’s grace and amused by how different six kids from one set of parents can be!

Different shapes, different sizes, different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different interests and different abilities.

One of the most enjoyable things about watching them grow up is how they come to express love in different ways. And when that love is directed towards me it is a unique and precious gift because they express it in ways that reflect the unique nature of my relationship with each of them.

The very same unique gift of love is what each of us can offer to God.

We bring God joy simply by responding to Him, by taking time with Him as His loved one, His fair one, to sit at His feet and let Him speak to us His words of love.

How easily we forget what an honored privilege it is to offer our personal worship to God. When you go before Him and worship Him, you give Him what no one else in the universe can give: your own personal love, your own personal adoration, your own personal response to Him. Joy comes when you respond to your heavenly Father with your unique personality, which He created—when you take to heart His Word and tell Him your feelings and your love.

God uniquely fashioned each one of us for Himself…. Each of us is individually precious to Him and will be for all eternity. Each of us can give Him the intimacy He longs for, the intense pleasure and satisfaction of our unique ways of relating to Him.
~ Excerpted from 31 Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers

 How will we respond to God today?

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If you have the time, leave a comment about how you most enjoy responding to God.

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Filed under Children of God, Family, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Loving God, Worship