Empty Nesting & Time Zones

IMG_5663I have a love/hate relationship with watching our kids grow up!

In our 26+ years of marriage, our family has moved over 20 times.  And 5 of those have been large moves across the country.

Why?

One word.  ‘Adventure.’

What I’ve discovered as Cailey and I are quickly becoming empty nesters is that our kids are taking on the rhythm of life they were raised in.

Take exhibit A (image to the right).  This is the new world clock on my phone.  As of this week, this now represents the 3 time zones our immediate family live in.

Most of our moves, and all 5 of the big ones, were related to doing ministry.  And it wasn’t ever as simple as going where employment was.  There were always multiple options for us to choose from.  I guess we’ve just firmly believed in listening to God carefully and stepping in faith in whichever direction He sends us.  We’ve modeled this lifestyle to our kids, so it should not surprise me that we now have a 21 y/o son living in Colorado and a 23 y/o son serving the next 3 years in Guam with the U.S. Navy.  Our other two kids currently live at home, but who knows where they will end up in the next year or two?

 

All that said, here are a few lessons I’m learning about watching our kids leave our nest and become highly independent adults.

  • Our direction and influence in their lives must look different than before. It also needs to be OFFERED, not GIVEN.
  • Their life choices are THEIR life choices. Their career, family, lifestyle, and overall worldview isn’t going to look just like mine. Those are not wrong or right. They are simply going to be different…unique to the person they are becoming.
  • It is fun watching them discover ADULTING along the way. But this is a spectator sport. We must not interfere in game play when we’re on the bench. And guess what? Our kids will determine if and when we come off the sidelines, not us.
  • Lastly, I love the fact that our kids still TALK to us! Now, I’m not so naive to claim that they tell us everything and they know all there is to know about Mom and Dad. But we still share our ambitions, worries, victories, and basic joys with each other. Cailey and I call that a win for our family.

Our family is far from perfect. We’ve even been told we’re entertaining at times (that’s not always a compliment). But our kids genuinely love each other, and deep down they know that their parents love them.

Here’s to family, life transition, and simply going with the flow!

 

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How To Weather The Seasons Of Life Like A Boss!

Ha, that title is the EPITOME of click bate (and I do hate click bate).

I’m not weathering my personal current season of life like a boss, so why would I even attempt to write something like this for anyone else?

Easy.  I’ll give you two reasons.  1. This isn’t really for you.  It’s for me.  Writing helps me process my thoughts, mood, and ultimately my actions.  So there!  2. Confession.  Yep, sharing my own shortcomings will hopefully keep me humble, and might even encourage someone else along the way.

So, with that….

fall

For many of us, changes in the four seasons require certain behaviors from us.  Here are a few examples.  Our clothing changes depending upon how warm or cold it is outside.  One season may call us to shovel snow or put de-icer on the driveway.  At other times in the year cutting the grass or raking leaves might be in the cards.  And the list goes on.  There is very little, if anything, you and I can do to avoid these types of elements.  We are forced to make modifications to accommodate the particular elements of each season.

winter

The seasons of life are absolutely no different!

We must look ahead, prepare, and sometimes expect the inevitable challenging elements.

spring

Take empty nesting, for example.  As much as I knew it was coming, it felt like it came out from nowhere!  This is still a challenge, even though it is going really well.

In the past 6 months, my wife and I have:

  • Relocated back to our home state of Washington from Colorado. (with two of our kids, plus a fiance’)
  • Begun discovering what leading a Missional Community looks like.
  • Started adjusting to military life with a son in the Navy. (he’s shipping over seas next week)
  • Getting used to another son living away in Colorado.  It’s hard when they’re not close.
  • Discovered the health and beauty of doing bi-vocational ministry in our community.

summer

In all of that, here are a few ways we have tried to weather these seasons like bosses!

Community | Authenticity changes everything.  Plus, God created us to live in community with one another and with Him.  To support and encourage each other.

Meditation | Prayer, or often simply sitting in the Lord’s presence.  In this current season, sometimes all I can do is sit quietly by myself and think about Jesus.  Sitting with Him while doing nothing is so therapeutic!

Exercise | Even when we don’t feel like it.  My wife and I go to the gym 5-6 times each week.  We’re not always excited about this, so it is helpful when we hold each other accountable to go weather we feel like it or not.  The key here is simply to remain active somehow.

Talk | With each other.  For us, this has made our marriage even stronger.  We share our real anxieties & pain with each other.  I realize this is a significant struggle for most men, but trust me.  Your marriage will advance to a level it’s never been before!

Journaling | I use Evernote and blog.  If you prefer the old fashioned paper and pen, try getting yourself a nice Moleskin tablet.

In the end, all seasons come to an end so that new ones can begin. The Bible reminds us that there is a season for everything, a time for every matter under heaven.  This should encourage us when we are in a dark season that better days are coming.  Likewise, it gives us advanced warning when things are sailing smooth that …

What about you?  What season are you in, and what have you found to be helpful to weather it?

OR….which of the items I mentioned above tend to be challenging to actually implement?

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Would You Take a Selfie With God?

No matter how old you get, I think you’ll agree that none of us will ever forget the friendships we had in High School. Those were formative years of our adolescence. And if you were anything like me, you had different friendships.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

I had 2-3 friends that my parents didn’t care for. They would strongly encourage me to stay clear of them. “That guy’s bad news, Brent” they would say. “They’re going to just get you into trouble.”

Generally speaking, they were wrong. One friend, however, they were dead right on with…..but that’s a different blog post 🙂

I digress.

Have you ever viewed God as a friend? You know, like the friends you associated with in school? Well, this thought entered my mind recently and I ended up mulling over it a while.

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Whether you already have a relationship with God or not, I think this concept of the Creator of the Universe actually wanting to have a real friendship with you and I is difficult to grasp. I mean….he’s God! But he still calls us ‘friends.’

Anyway, the more I thought about it I determined that there really are two types of friend that God offers to us. See what you think.

Friend #1 – That friend you have a lot in common with. You have so much fun just being together and in each other’s company. It doesn’t even matter what you’re doing. You really look forward to spending time together. This is the friend you’ve taken selfies with in about HALF of your Instagram feed.
Friend #2 – The person you work to build a relationship with because of what you can gain from them. Maybe because of who they know, what they have, or the position they hold. This friendship is not the kind that just evolves naturally. It requires initiative, but the investment is worth it!
I would argue that there are aspects of both in God. The longer we know him and spend real time with him, the more comfortable we become. The more we learn that he really is very relational.
Additionally, I’d be willing to bet that God would take the most epic selfie! (we just might have to edit the brightness down afterward)

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Discover Just One Word To Give You Focus In 2018

During the time of the New Year, many of us ponder things we would like to BEGIN doing versus those things we desperately want to STOP. Those things have historically been referred to as resolutions.

The problem with resolutions, as you know, is they tend to only last a few short weeks or months before we fail and ultimately forget them for the remainder of the year.

For this reason I gave up completely on New Year resolutions. About six years ago I discovered a much better replacement.

OneWord365

OneWord365 is both a CONCEPT and COMMUNITY. It is simple and powerful. The idea is to come up with just one single word that will ultimately be your theme for the entire next year. One word to focus on, to offer regular direction and reflection for your priorities. And there is an ever-growing Facebook Community where you can share your struggles, victories, and dreams around your one word.

That said, I’d like to expand on MY one word for 2018.

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Yep, MOMENTS! Not allowing those seemingly insignificant daily interactions and experiences to pass by unnoticed. Things like taking note of special, quiet moments with Jesus. Fully being in the ‘moment’ when with my family.

When I’m at the gym I’m focused on exercise. I’m not taking phone calls or replying to texts or emails.

I listen to music through my earbuds when having my quiet time. Our home often has a lot going on. Putting my earbuds in accomplishes two things. 1) It keeps me from being distracted by all that is going on around me, and 2) It is also a subtle way of letting my family know that I don’t want to be disturbed.

So, I simply want to be dedicated in the MOMENT of whatever I’m doing. In the past, I’ve learned that being too busy creates distractions. At the end of the day I could think back over my day and literally have no memory of 40 – 60 percent of what I actually did!

That’s a problem.

Here’s to a 2018 with focus that is also memorable.  How about you?

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I Don’t Want To Pray For Your Church

That’s right! I don’t want to pray for your church.

Jesus said He would build his Church.

I can tell you this, though. After 25 years of church ministry I’ve learned to pray for church leaders over anything else in the church.

churchhealth.001

Here are 4 things I’ve discovered to be true when we prayer for pastors and other leaders in the church.

  • Healthy churches grow from healthy leaders, NOT the other way around.
  • We don’t see church congregations that are healthier than their leadership.
  • Our focus changes from ‘are they meeting my needs’ to a genuine desire to partner with them for stronger Kingdom impact.
  • We know that prayer works, and that our prayers can be powerful. Our prayers can make a huge difference in the personal and professional lives of our leaders.

If you lead a church or other ministry and would like prayer, I’d love to come along side you this week. Feel free to email me at BrentDumler@iCloud.com

 

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3 Hours On The Road With God In Wyoming

Have you ever experienced God in a completely opposite way than you were expecting?

Recently, my wife, daughter and I were relocating to Yakima, WA from Colorado Springs. As with any significant road trip involving three full days of travel and a 26 ft. moving truck, day 1 plagued me with anxiousness. I prefer not to travel after dark (which we were), and once we crossed over into Wyoming the weather turned on us. Not with snow and ice as you might assume in this region in November. No, mother nature decided to expose us to a bit of WIND. Specifically, 65+ MPH sustained winds!

Here’s a picture of the exact message we encountered as we approached the first town in Wyoming…

wyoming wind

At first, I was drawn to the ’65+MPH wind’ part of the sign. Soon thereafter, I experienced the frightening reality that I was indeed traveling in a ‘light high profile vehicle.’ I wanted to stop for the night, but the forecast for the next day predicted even worse winds. I had no real choice in the situation. We had to just push through. So, I continued on…one mile at a time at just 45 MPH. Any faster and the wind would have flipped the truck on it’s side!

Needless to say, we managed to get through Wyoming safely. But not on our own ability. During the worst 3 hours of the trip I prayed. It started off with me pleading with God to protect myself, all of our belongings, and my wife and daughter traveling behind me in the car.

What happened next was simply incredible! 

God transformed my heart. I was still white-knuckled and concerned the whole way, but He gave me the ability and heart to start praying for others. That’s right, I was praying over dozens of other people I know in the midst of my own fearful moments. Let me clarify, this is NOT a pat on the back for me. This was entirely a supernatural intervention.

This quote sums up my time with God nicely.

Yancey.001

More specifically, God was keeping company with me on this journey. As we neared our stopping point that night I felt as if God was saying to me “This was good. Let’s do this more often.” Personally, I have come a long way in my practice of prayer and general pursuit of God in the past 5 years. But I have so much more to learn and grow toward.

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11 

 

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Farewell Colorado!

God has a new assignment for us….in WASHINGTON STATE.

After 2 years in Colorado Springs, Cailey and I will be moving to WA to lead the development of an existing Missional Community in the city of Yakima.

Friends, this has been a casual, ongoing discussion with leadership there since April.  Yes, since April!  It has taken us that long to seek God’s will and really KNOW that he is calling us to this.

We do ask for your prayers.  One of our kids plans to remain in Colorado, while another is heading to the Navy on 10/16.  If you know us, you know that we are a very close family.  This transition will undoubtedly be the most unique, most difficult one we’ve had yet.

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We plan to hit the road with a moving truck in the first part of November.  That’s another concern…traveling through CO, WY, and UT in the winter months.  But the Lord has led us this far.  Why would we doubt his protection in getting us there at this point?

Below is a mere sampling of how God has spoken to us over the past few months, in his Word, prayer, devotional readings, and worship music.

“Is there anyone I can send? … “I will go, send me!”  (from Isaiah 6:1-3, 5-8)
“The amount of faith God has given you is equal to the assignment He’s given you.”
“There’s a big difference between self-reliance and God reliance.”
“What you give to God, He handles.  What you keep, you handle.”
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Change, and huge steps of faith, have never been easy for our family.  They have, however, become a common theme in our journey of following Jesus.  In every new direction we have tried to focus more on obedience than determining what the sacrifice will be.

Max Lucado once wrote, “God promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into our future.” 

We don’t really know what tomorrow has in store, BUT we do know that God will be there.  He will be there saying, “Thanks for taking those few steps with me.  Now, let’s keep on going.”

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Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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