Monday, January 23, 2012

Blue Chip Night...

Hello, my name is Jamie. I'm a firm believer in Jesus Christ, and I suffer from being a control freak and perfectionist...

It sounded stupid the first time I said it. I've been told most of my adult life that I'm a control freak. My kids know I'm a perfectionist about most things, and even my wife has made comments about it over the years. I have laughed it off for years by just saying it was part of my OCD tendencies.

I mean, I knew it was there. I can't walk past a throw rug without straightening it up...not in my house...not in your house...not in Wal-Mart...not in the grocery store. If I step across a rug, I'm going to straighten it up and that's all there is to it. My canned veggies in the cabinet all have the labels facing the same way. I like the remotes in a certain spot. There is a certain level of order that has to be maintained or I wig out, literally. And crowds...don't even get me started.

I didn't really think is was a very big deal until a couple weeks ago. The church that I am blessed to pastor has launched a ministry that I've been wanting to get involved with for years, Celebrate Recovery, and our first meeting was two weeks ago. Celebrate was born at Saddleback Church years ago and has become a world wide source of recovery and healing. We've been planning to launch at Grace for months, preparing, getting ready, lining up volunteers and material and our first meeting was going to be a general introduction kind of thing. No big deal, really. A short worship service was going to be followed by a video and some introductions by the leadership, then it was off to small groups to begin facing our demons...only my demon was a little impatient (Hmm, I wonder where he gets that from.) and decided to hit me during part of the worship service.

It's called "The Chip Service," and basically is a moment of celebration within the worship service. There are different color chips that are handed out to folks who have been free from their demons for different amounts of time, but the most important chip, we were told, was the blue chip. Folks who are on Day One of recovery recieve a blue chip. That means that they have taken the first step in breaking the chains of addiction or finding release from something that has kept them enslaved...but hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The video...that's what really got me thinking. I had not seen it before and was not expecting to be affected like I was. I did expect folks to talk about addictions to drugs and alcohol, and they did. I expected folks to talk about food addictions, and self-esteem issues, so those didn't surprise me. I don't have a problem with any of that. Then it happened...three words scrolled across the screen..."Control freak"..."Perfectionist"...

Those aren't really problems, are they? I mean, honestly, is that something that folks need to be in recovery for? So I like things done a certain way. Big deal. Then I started thinking about all of the times I had yelled at my girls for the messes they left everywhere, and the times I had cussed at my employees years ago for not building something the way I wanted it built, and the times I tried to push my feet through the floor board while Steph was driving. Shall I continue with the list? Or can I just say that I realized that yes, I was a control freak, and yes, it was getting in the way of some of my relationships.

So I stood up, walked up to the front, took the blue chip, and said those words: "My name is Jamie. I'm a firm believer in Jesus Christ, and I'm a control freak." It still almost seems silly, I mean really. It's not a drug or alchohol addiction so it almost seems silly for a grown man to stand up in front of a group of folks and admit that he likes to be in charge, but it has made me more conscious of how I treat folks around me, and I'm beginning to notice the times when I cringe because something is not the way I want it to be.

So it wasn't an instant success story, but hey, it's a start. I still have issues. But admitting there is a problem truly is the first step to healing, and healing comes through Christ, which by the way is the backbone of the Celebrate Recovery program.

That being said, if you're battling your own demons and are ready to find healing, come on out to LaCenter Thursday night. I'll meet you at Grace UMC, right on Hwy 60 at 7:00, and you can let the healing begin.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mall Dad...

A couple weeks ago I ran across an article by Rick Howerton called, "Three Gifts Every Leader Should Give Their Family for Christmas." Here's a link to the article:

I already knew what he was going to talk about, and probably knew what he was going to say before he said it...more of my time, yada yada worship time, yada yada yada, and more of my time doing stuff with the family that didn't revolve around church, yada yada yada. I knew about all of that stuff already, and was doing a pretty fair job with I thought.

Pre-Christmas season, or Advent, is uber-crazy around my place...just like I'm sure it is around yours. This year we also threw an open house at the parsonage into the mix, which I think was the first time we had ever done that, and which I know added to the already uber-craziness.

But...once the gifts had all been wrapped, the menu had been prepared, dinner had been had with Steph's family and with mine...once the lights had been turned off Christmas Eve, after gifts opened Christmas morning, the star had been followed, the babe had been swaddled and adored, and after worship had been led Christmas was time to crash.

I had planned to leave for a mission trip the day after Christmas like I have done in the past, but this time the weather didn't cooperate and the trip was postponed, which left me asking as I kicked back in my recliner Christmas afternoon..."What am I going to do now?"

I still had vacation days left and that's a good week to burn some of them up, so when we got up Monday morning, I said this to my bride of nearly 19 years: "I'm going to give you something for Christmas that I have never given you before. I'm going to take you and the girls to the mall and shop with A whole day of my undivided" Yes, Virginia, there is a crazy man standing there.

We told the girls to gather up their gift cards and Christmas cash (cha-ching), then we all climbed into the 4 door sleigh, and headed to the mall. Had I lost my mind? What the hell was I thinking? It was the day after Christmas, for Pete's sake, and I was taking my brood to the epicenter of commercialism?

The crowds were just as bad as I expected. We actually did get to park on mall property...barely. Lines were long. Stores were packed. But my wife and two daughters had...a...ball (at the mall).

As I watched them, something in me began to change. I actually began to relax (and no, there was no alcohol involved). I noticed that I stopped standing out in the mall as much and actually started going into the stores with them more. I began to smile as I watched my daughters flit from one clothing rack to another, knowing they only had X number of dollars to spend, and that they had to spend it wisely.

I sat down with them and had a soft pretzel and a coke (Have you ever had one of those things? O...M...G...they are good.) I noticed that I began to notice the crowd less, and that my feet weren't hurting as much, and that I wasn't nearly as mad at the other mallers as I thought I'd be.

And then...9 hours, that's right folks, 9 hours later, we loaded back into the Explorer, Steph looked at me and said, "Thank you."

I've given her a lot of stuff for Christmas over the last 23 years, and more than likely, she doesn't remember much of it. I know that I don't. But this year, I gave her more of me.

I think the Lee clan started a new holiday tradition this year. Next year, I'm going to take the whole week after Christmas off. I'm not going to plan on going on a mission trip. I'm not going to go into the office. The band will be practiced up before Christmas...and I'm going to be, once again, a mall dad. It was actually fun.

I noticed something else this Christmas break. When all of my girls went back to school yesterday, I didn't do my happy dance like I used to. I actually hated to see them go back.

May your days of Christmas help you see what is really important. This year mine did.