n the Redeem 5.2 Post #2 I included the following line when describing the choice of how to fill my first set of projects: “Starting simple with something that challenges me only with time”. Unfinished home projects were straight-forward and cost me little more than planning, time and a few bucks (no major remodeling projects!). They were a good first step to start being more disciplined and begin redeeming time. The instant gratification of each finished project also helped spur me along initially. The next stage is not as simple.
Well, that’s not quite accurate, it is simple, I am complicating it. For the next set of time blocks (house projects are still happening on designated days/time) I am going to write letters to people who have influenced my life. Subtle influences or life altering, if it mattered I want to let the person know the impact they have had on my life.
This is something I want to do, something that should be done. So to the hesitation I say “one…two…three..over it!” Time to get to work!
The most important lesson I have learned about writing is “don’t think, just write”. I do not remember where, or from whom, I learned this, but adhering to it has brought me some of my most treasured things in life…including my wife (if you are counting, that is at least the 4th teaser about how Kelsey and I courted and the story we will share at some point in the future).
“Don’t think, just write”…if what you write makes any sense then do something with it. Revise it, develop an idea into a complete story, stick a stamp on it and mail it! Or “when in Rome” look the person up on Social Media and message them. Don’t let it die as a crumpled piece of paper in a waste basket or an unsaved file on your computer. Today a memory occurred to me and instead of just thinking it, I am writing it down:
Years ago I had the opportunity to be a last minute, fill-in chaperone on a mission trip to Costa Rica. Ruff, right? The trip was for a group of students from the high school where I was a teacher.
The first day at breakfast, Jenny, the trip leader, shared the plan for the day with the 15(?) high school students. No more than 30 minutes later one of the kids lobbed a question Jenny’s way about the plans for the day…nothing…no response…not even a break in the conversation was made to answer the question. The question was asked again…nothing…the student began a third attempt that was cut off this time by Jenny “were you at breakfast when the schedule for today was shared?”, “well…yes” replied the student…”then you have your answer”.
The answer Jenny gave was not stern in tone and it was not the slightest rebuke. It was a gracious and simple restatement of a known fact.
The day progressed and while the students were loving on children at an orphanage, I asked Jenny about the early exchange; “just so I can make sure that I am supporting you, can you tell me why the short answer earlier?” And here it came, true wisdom…”We are in a foreign country, planning and watching over a group of teenagers. They all know that the schedule for the day will be shared at breakfast each morning and they are responsible for that information. And unless that schedule changes during the course of the day, questions about the schedule are not needed.”
Ok, that makes sense. BUT…and it was a “yeah right, I will believe it when I see it ‘BUT’”, we are talking about a group of teenagers. Guys and gals that are at an age where they are as inquisitive as they are talkative, no way you actually expect this rule to work.
To which Jenny went on to share more of the idea “Do the math, 15 teenagers and say 16 hours of a scheduled day…if each student asked one question an hour (reasonable, right?) that is 240 questions over the course of day. The predictable result is leaders going crazy and the lifespan of certain students possibly cut short”…this was said in jest, but understanding the surface level and practical application of this rule was making more sense.
At some point, later in the trip, I began to notice the deeper result of this wisdom…the students were more present. Because the plans for the day had been shared, and they were not lazily asking questions that they already had answers to…they stayed in the present. When spending time in an orphanage, the kids living in the orphanage became the world to our students. They loved on the orphans wholly. On the way to or from a project the students shared with each other the memories of what they had just been part of and their hopes about what opportunities lay ahead. They talked with one another about the past and about the future, but they were living and thriving in the present.
So my letter today will be to Jenny. Thanking her for teaching a concept that today, 10 years later, is an everyday part of the Steffen household. At breakfast we share the plan for the day with our kids. We are training and they are learning, that we are responsible to share the schedule and they are responsible for that information. We write the basics on the fridge and if a question does come up our first response is, “Did you check the schedule?” And miracles never cease! The inquisitive minds of our small children are learning responsibility! “Mom, what time is lunch…oh wait…” Child runs to the fridge and exclaims “…nevermind!” as they simultaneously turn and run out the front door to join their siblings in the present.
More miracles never cease…as parents, who homeschool and work from home, we can confirm that all four of our kids are thriving, more creative and content, because they are present…they are also safe from rapid-fire questions putting their lives in peril from a stressed out parent!
So today I am going to write a thank you letter to Jenny. A friend, who, demonstrated a piece of wisdom that has had a great and lasting influence on our family!