The Plan For a New Beginning

I mentioned in my last post that I had a business idea in the making. One week in and it’s very much on it’s way!

I decided to pursue landscaping as a startup business idea. The whole purpose is to give me something physical to do, while also creating some better income and freedom to do more things that i love. I’m hoping this will help to enable us to be more flexible in serving at our church, doing more of what we love together (music, serving, etc) and it will (if it goes as planned) replace and provide a greater income than present.field-175959_1920.jpg

I’ve always loved the idea of entrepreneurship but never had the guts to cast off my fear and pursue a career “on my own”. But now, it’s pretty official. My bosses know, my church knows, my friends know, and I’ve posted publicly on  Facebook. So essentially I’ve given myself no wiggle room for not doing this. It’s gonna happen.

So, you say, what’s the plan?

My first goal is complete. Be open with my intentions and start moving forward. Done.

My second goal is to create a one-page business plan of what I will offer, how much to charge, and what investments need to be made. That is finished.

My third goal is to purchase the equipment and launch my internet presence. Also, I’m doing some free work to provide me with some positive feedback for the online presence. There’s virtually no landscape company in my area that’s capitalizing on this. This is what I’m doing right now. I’m purchasing the mower today and many of the hand tools needed. I will also hopefully have a job on Monday for some leaf blowing and hedge trimming!

The fourth and final goal is to get the physical name out. I’ll purchase shirts, business cards, flyers, lawn signs, car magnets and start hustling like a mad man to get quotes and get working on mondays, saturday mornings, and evenings.

Iv’e calculated i need 15 hours of work per week to replace my current income. I’m hoping and praying that God will provide the work quickly so it’s not a long dragged out ordeal. But I’m trying to trust in His timing.

Anyways, i have to go get that mower and a whole lot of other stuff!

Subduing My Little Piece of Ground

This past Monday (my day off) was spent by myself for the first half of the day. My wife was at work so I decided to finally mow my front yard and clean up some of the landscaping.

As someone who tries to see the spiritual aspects of all of life (something that Adventures in Odyssey taught me!) working to make my yard and flower beds look nice kind of reminded me of God’s command to subdue the earth in Genesis.

I think this is where many people (both men and women) get their drive to build, create, restore and rebuild. We have it wired into our very beings. Ultimately we will never restore our little piece of dirt to it’s former pre-sin glory, but we desire to try to subdue it as best we can.

And that was what I did last Monday.

Pictured, I have some before and after photos.

There was something immensely gratifying about getting my hands dirty while listening to great music. It really is such a beautiful metaphor of God’s work in us.Daily Re-dedication.jpg

The Holy Spirit’s work in us isn’t a one time thing. We can’t just mow the lawn of our souls once. It’s a constant trimming back, revitalizing, and convicting of our hearts. And it takes work.

Grass starts looking like weeds when it sits stagnant for a time. Flower beds get overrun, leaves pile up. The sin in our lives is the same way. When you’re not fighting it, it’s growing back.

Fighting sin is messy. Your hands will get dirty and your soul will grow tired, but we must go back to God’s word and to prayer to reconnect with our Lord to regain our strength again every morning.

And it’s not an easy task. God calls us to die to ourselves. Take up our crosses. Go make disciples of all nations. The only way we can do this is by the simple daily act of committing ourselves to God’s will as shown in the Bible. And though cutting grass and putting down brown bedding may be trivial in of itself, God can still use something simple to show us a small glimpse into one way He works in our lives.

Because, just like up-keeping a home, cutting grass, and washing dishes, keeping our souls requires daily re-dedication. Daily reviving. Daily dying.

 

I Don’t Have The Right to Say Who I Am

The scariest question sometimes is “Who are you?”.

The reason this scares me is that my mind immediately leaps to what I do. I like ministry, I like fixing cars, i like being a husband (not necessarily in that order!).

But that doesn’t answer the question. It only shines light on what i like doing in my life, not who I am as a person.

The world seems to further this way of thinking. cadiz-189297_1920.jpgColleges tell us that we need to pick a career and then we inadvertently align our life’s meaning with that work. This creates a connection between who we are and what we do that doesn’t seem to get challenged much by the culture, even in the Church.

It becomes, “Nolan the Mechanic” rather than “Nolan, who does automotive side work”. One defines me as my vocation, the other separates the two.

This has been a challenging new way of thinking because I’ve always subconsciously aligned my identity with my day-to-day activities. If work goes rough, I feel down, if speaking at youth group went rough, I beat myself up.

But this isn’t how God wants us to live. He wants us to find our identity only in Him!

The only way to break the mold is to recognize that the only person or thing that has the jurisdiction to tell me what meaning i have is God Himself. A job can’t ascribe meaning, it didn’t create us! A family can’t ascribe meaning, they’re fallen sinners! Only the one who created us can tell us who we are.

And if we’re in Christ, we are “New creations” , “transferred into the kingdom of his
beloved son”
, “children of God”, “chosen, royal, holy”.

And as much as my heart argues and tries to find my identity in my job or my life circumstances, God reminds me that only He has the right to tell me who I am. I don’t have that right.

Just a little something God reminded me of today.

My Trophies

Ever gone to that conference and got a ton of free books? Or perhaps your friends have some fantastic new titles that you really want to read. 20160430_120023.jpgI can relate to both. A couple of years ago my wife (then girlfriend) and I went to a counseling conference in Lafayette Indiana (read about here!). Of course I purchased many great books that are still sitting on my shelf collecting dust (besides one I’m currently reading).

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a slow reader, or perhaps I just don’t take the time to read each day, but I walked into my apartment and realized I’d only read about 10% of them. I had turned my Christian books into trophies, not tools. They had become pseudo status symbols of my walk with Christ, hoping people would assume that I’m an avid reader who devours great Christian authors.

God really convicted me on this and I’ve begun to be more diligent to read more. Self-discipline is something I need more of. Whether it be to stop watching Netflix and read, or take my work break to open the scriptures, I’m trying to commit to use my time in a more profitable way.

And I’m not saying owning books you don’t read is bad, I’m just saying for me, I found that I had become lazy and just bought them for a sub-conscience (now conscious) want to feel more spiritual or godly. But God’s shown me (quite obviously) that the only way they can help me grow in godliness is if I actually sit down and open the pages.

 

 

Hardships Have Purpose

I so often find myself overthinking rather than praying. I think that I trust God, but then some circumstance pops up and I instantly run to my own reason, my own wisdom, my own self.

Dependence on God is something that doesn’t come easily. I tend to think of myself as the fichtelberg-1048982_1920.jpgdo it yourself, entrepreneur type person. And though I do do those things somewhat well, I sometimes forgot who’s really on the throne.

Instead of opening scripture to see Christ, I think too much. Instead of marinating in what God has already said, I dwell on my fallen intellect.

As I was pondering one circumstance in my life on my drive home from work today I was listening to “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns. The lyric that always hits me is “your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place”.

Really? This is actually part of a plan?

But it’s the truth, God created the universe with a purpose. He doesn’t throw things at me without a purpose. Life’s hardships aren’t senseless, meaningless, or unknown to God. He knows, and He will love you through it for His glory and our good.

That’s hard for me to hold on to sometimes. But it’s true.

He doesn’t promise to make things “feel” good, but He does promise that everything will work out for good. And that’s all we can hold on to sometimes.

 

 

 

Contentment Isn’t Found in Work

As I began my job this week, I was very restless and nervous about it. Mostly because of uncertainty. But as it seems to turn out, the people are generally nice and the work is pretty straight forward.

On top of that they seemingly want to teach meblueprint-964629_1920.jpg more
than just construction and maintenance grunt work. I’ll be learning blueprints and some construction engineering, of course while still doing some grunt work, gotta still be the new guy!

Anyhow, despite how everything goes, whether good or bad, God’s put on my heart Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11-12. Paul could be content in any situation. Not because of the situations he found himself in, but rather that he knew that no matter what he had Christ who would never leave him.

As I and many others go to work this year, we need to remember that what brings contentment isn’t based on our day, our job, or our income. It’s based on Christ and our joy found only in him.

A Great Snowfall

This morning consisted of waking up (after a long night of Netflix with my wife) to around two feet of snow on the ground. As someone winter-654442_1920.jpgoriginally from Vermont, now in Virginia, this actually comes as a pleasant “surprise” coating the world with a clean white covering that makes everything feel fresh and new.

After breakfast we went to dig my car out, which was conveniently blocked by around four feet of plow-compacted snow.

As much as my Subaru has been a handful at times, I’m certainly grateful for the all-wheel-drive system. After we cleared the snow she pulled out quite nicely.

I then commenced to drive over to Home Depot and tested my emergency brake in the parking lot just to “make sure it worked”. After my brief fun I purchased a shovel and scraper and my wife and I helped out a young lady who didn’t have a shovel. She wasn’t there to witness our help, but we were grateful to be able to help either way.

Because we’re temporarily at an apartment complex, everyone was out shoveling. So it felt a lot like one big community effort to get rid of the snow. We stayed out shoveling until about noon and went in for some lunch.

After eating, we drove over to our IMG_20160124_132357.jpgstorage unit (which of course wasn’t plowed, pictured) to grab my work boots for my first day on Monday. We then went back to Home Depot to pick up some gloves and sun/safety glasses to prepare for work.

At three we headed over to the apartment clubhouse where we played some pool and watched the AFC championship game (yeah, Broncos!).

Now I’m nervously anticipating the first day at my new job. I’m not even nervous about the work. I’ll enjoy maintenance and construction, It’s just that I have no idea what to expect or what I can look forward to.

I’m sure we can all relate to pre-job anxiety, but I know that God will provide what I need to be content in all circumstances. I’ll be sure to update you all this Tuesday on my experience and impressions!

How much snow did you get?