Category Archives: Life Stories

Project Defined

Project. Definition: an undertaking requiring concerted effort.

While the definition of project may not change, admittedly, as a “white-collar” worker, the term project means something a little different to me today than it did when I was growing up on a farm in Eastern Iowa.

To open a window into my career, there are times when you feel like you are juggling dozens of projects at a time all with different timelines and deadlines. It’s rewarding work, but there are times when you desire the simplicity of a given task, a foreseeable deadline, and joy of reaching the finish line.

Project. Defined: transfer hosting service from existing host to new host (perhaps the reason will be a future post…)

While this initially might not seem like an exciting task for someone who works in the financial industry, for me it was a challenge worth taking. For those of you who have done this before, you are probably thinking “big deal”, a couple of hours of work, pretty simple stuff. For those of us who haven’t, let me say how thankful I am for online resources…

I’m happy to say that tonight I was able complete the process by pointing the domain to my new host by changing the nameserver (man don’t I sounds “geeky”)!

That being said, if you notice issues with our Eternal Outlook website, I would like to be able to promise you that it is not my fault… but it probably is…

Perhaps that will lead to another project…

 

Who Sets Your Agenda?

Last week, I took a break from the daily grind of work and walked to my car which is parked in the parking garage at my work.  I shut the door to my car and resisted turning on the radio for some background noise.  I picked up my personal cell phone to put it on silent and noticed that I had multiple texts that I had yet to address… so I quickly worked through them.  While doing so, my blackberry from work was “dinging” with e-mails and calendar reminders… once again, I scanned them quickly and put my phone on silent.  My attempt to withdraw has already been sidetracked multiple times!

To some extent, I believe that this 10 minute exercise represents a microcosm of my life (I’m guessing yours as well).  There are phone calls to make, deadlines to meet, agendas to keep, and that is just during the work day.   My effort of even putting this all aside during the middle of my work day has led me to conclude:

1. Communion with God requires effort

I’m typically not one to shy away from effort, with the caveat being that my effort is for something that I desire!  Too often, I find that my desires are based on selfish motives.  I desire success in my job, the feeling of being a valuable member of my team, and the satisfaction of a task well done.  I was recently challenged to consider my use of time as a plumb line for determining my desires (any one else not want to answer that challenge?!).

2. Communion with God requires the denial of self

Too often, my thoughts are more “kingdom” focused than “Kingdom” focused (little “k” vs. big “K”).  My outlook is more temporal than eternal and my desires more superficial than genuine.  In fact, my entire purpose of withdrawing during the middle of my work day was to test myself regarding the driving force in my life: work or communion with the living God?

3.  Communion with God requires the submission of one’s will

Until I was able to shut down “Travis’ agenda”, I had no chance for true communion with God.  I praise God that he works in me through the power of the Holy Spirit, consistently and faithfully drawing me into communion and prayer.  While my shortcomings are many and my faults easily identifiable, I can boldly ask God, just as King David did, not to cast me away from His presence nor take His Holy Spirit away from me (see Psalm 51:11).  I am forever indebted to the grace of God and my God does not withhold good from those who walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11).

To reduce it all down to one sentence, communion with God requires effort, denying oneself, and the submission of one’s will.  I pray that my journey to true communion with the living God will come quickly today!

Blessings,

Travis

 

 

Working Unto the Lord…

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. ~ Colossians 3:23-24

I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do.  It is a unique and rewarding career, of which I am part of a small office that allows me to work pretty independently with a flexible schedule.  In fact, it is hard to believe that I have already been there over 6 years.  God has truly blessed my family through this job, as I  have had great opportunities set before me.

Most jobs have some cyclical nature to them and mine is no exception.  Our office is typically busier in the winter, spring, and fall, with a summer slowdown.  However, the past few months have been extremely busy for me at work.  By no means is that a complaint, just a reality of my current work situation.  After a busy spring, I was looking forward to having a nice relaxing summer, with frequent Friday afternoon golf outings with my son and friends from church, and surprising the kids by coming home early to go to the park.  Instead, due to a resignation in our department, I found myself picking up extra work, while keeping the clubs locked in the trunk of my car.

Despite our plans, God often takes unexpected life situations to teach us the truth of Scripture.  In this case, I was constantly energized by the Scripture passage in Colossians (quoted at the beginning of this post).  I’m thankful that God is not silent regarding the day-to-day tasks of this life on earth.  And why would he be, because he cares for his children.  This summer, God gave me great perspective that even though I was drawing my paycheck from my employer, it is not them whom I was ultimately serving.

To be honest, it would have been easier to “mail it in” and do the minimum to get by, or to stress out and lash out at those close to me (something I would have done in the past).  But God (yes, one of those “but God” moments), gave me the grace to persevere.  In fact, the greatest reward for me is hearing my wife say, “I feel like you have done a good job of balancing work and family”.  I often fear allowing those two seemingly competing time and effort requirements to become unbalanced.  I praise God that he gives us the victories that we need.

Blessings,

Travis

 

SIDE NOTE: Don’t get me wrong, this by no means indicates that my family and I did not have a great summer (complete with a family vacation, trips to grandparents’ houses, and a fun filled day at the Iowa State Fair).  However, this probably means that our summer didn’t quite go as “we” had planned.   God ways are not our ways for his ways are higher (see Isaiah 55:9).

 

Scheduling the American Dream

Daily Schedule: Wake, shower, and commute to work from the suburbs before the kids are even out of bed.  Work on projects, field calls, and prepare presentations until I realize that the day is over and my wife is calling me about what time to have dinner on the table.  Pull in the driveway a little after 6 pm to be greeted by 4 children and a wife eager to see me and share about the events of their respective days.  Enjoy a home-cooked meal and the remaining 90 minutes of family time before putting the kids to bed around 8:30 pm.  Relax, catch up on the day’s events, while preparing for tomorrow’s, before drifting off to sleep knowing the bills have been paid and my family is being provided for…

Sounds like my personal slice of the American Dream, eh?

The truth is, from the outside looking in, my life appears to have met the requirements of this so-called American Dream: home in the suburbs, a satisfying, well-paying job, a wife and children.  Perhaps four children is too many to qualify for the American Dream, but we have foregone the dog and cat for the time being (which sort of evens it out).  The schedule listed above could be classified as a typical outline of my days for the frist half of 2011, and truthfully, there has not be a lot for me to complain about.  Life “looks good” to the eyes of men.   

There is nothing inherently evil with the aspects of the so-called American Dream which are present in my life (job, home, wife, kids).  In fact, I contend they are all worthwhile and profitable endeavors.  However, as a Christian man, is the American Dream what I should ultimately be striving to accomplish?  The answer should be “no”, but for whatever reason this has become the benchmark for success in our society today.  As with everything else in our society, the goals of the American Dream are short-sighted.  Politicians make decisions based on what will make them more electable for their next term.  Football programs bend and break rules to land the prized recruit who will lead them to glory for his four years of eligibility.  The list of examples could go on forever.  We are stuck in a world obsessed with instant gratification.  At the root of instant gratification screams the desires of the selfish, sinful nature.  There is no eternal outlook.

What if my schedule was evaluated for its impact on heavenly / eternal things?  How would it stack up?  Would it meet the litmus test?  Granted, there are things of eternal impact that did take place throughout the day of the schedule listed above.  However, the evidence would suggest that I was scheduling the American Dream, and not a heavenly minded reality.

Lord God, help me to approach each day with a heavenly minded, eternal outlook, instead of seeking the securities of the American Dream.  Lead me as I lead my family in seeking the fullness of Your being and satisfaction in the fullness of Your presence.

I Am Who I Am

Every Father’s day is becoming sweeter and sweeter to me.  My growing appreciation for the opportunity to set aside 24 hours in honor of Father’s transcends multiple levels of my life.

My Heavenly Father
I love that Father’s day always fall on a Sunday.  Is there a sweeter way to celebrate, than in worshiping the Father of Lights and King of Kings? Today, as I stood in worship at FFC, my heart was overwhelmed at one point in worship to the song, You are God Alone (written by Billy J Foote and Cindy Foote, made famous by Phillips, Craig & Dean).  There is nothing unique or exciting about the lyrics, it is simply a praise hymn.  However, in the simplicity of the lyrics, something happened.  For today it was transformed into a testimony of God’s beauty in my eyes (thanks Pastor Todd).  For this might and unchangeable God, sent His only Son to die on the cross for MY sings.  While it easy to use the words that name God as “Father” (see the Lord’s prayer), it is another thing entirely to call and cry out to God from our hearts as “Father” in the spirit of adoption (see Galatians 4:4-7).  I am who I am today, because of my Heavenly Father’s, saving grace and work of sanctification in my life.

My Earthly Father
My Father was and is a hard-working man who embraced God’s calling as provider for his family.  He loves God and has always placed his family above all other things that would consume his time.  As busy as me and my siblings were in high school, I can scarcely remember a time where he was not present at one of our events.  His support and sacrifice was never-ending.  My Father taught me what it means to work hard and sacrifice to accomplish the things which you want in life.  As I sit here at the computer, a time during my high school years stands out to me.  I distinctly remember an instance where he “encouraged” me (more like challenged me) to have a stronger work ethic. While I can’t quite remember my immediate reaction (suffice to say it probably wasn’t very God or a great example of submission and respect to my father), as I look back on that time in my life my earthly father was right (in substance) and had every right (in role) to challenge me in this area.  It is little events like these, accumulated over the past 27 years of my life, that allow me to say I am who I am today because of the love and training of my earthly father.

My Role as Father
To me this is the most frightening level of my life to write about it, because I am a long ways from being a perfect dad.   By God’s grace we have four wonderful children, they are well behaved (most of the time), and learning what it means to love God.  Yet, this is an area where God is currently “dealing” with me.  Have you ever had those times where God uses his instrument of wisdom (Word of God, quiet prayer times, godly books, sermons, etc.) to speak truth into your life? Currently this is one of those times. I believe that God is speaking to my heart that as a father, he has given me a high calling of leading my family physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I can’t necessarily define what that looks like or will look like in our family’s life, but I am seeking God and praying for wisdom (James 1:5).  Ultimately, my prayer is that someday, my children will be able to joyfully say, “I am who I am today, because of the role that my earthly father and Heavenly Father had in my life.”

Slow Down…


“…But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” ~ James 1:19-20

The Lord has really brought strong conviction into my life recently (thanks Pastor Todd).  I’ve been told that, ever since I was young, I’ve had to struggle to reign in my emotions.   Typically, this took place in athletic events where I would get too competitive and quick-tempered and allow it to effect my performance and mental state.  After losing, I would often be unbearable to be around.

Ever since I became a Christian I have become more aware of the destructiveness of anger and a short fuse.  I’ve failed many times with this (ask my wife or kids) and then I must go to my wife, children, or someone else who I have hurt to apologize and plead for their forgiveness.  In doing so I have found Proverbs 28:13 to be true (“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion”).  I want to obey Ephesians 4:31 to put away all wrath and anger.

So, why do I share all this?  To sympathize with those who may share in my weakness.  To give you hope that victory over sin can be obtained.  Just this evening I experience great victory in this area in the arena of training our oldest daughter.  My wife had dealt with her not eating her food for lunch earlier in the day.  After sitting at the table for a long time…she was given the option to take a nap with no milk or to finish her meal, with the understanding that she WOULD be finishing that food for dinner this evening.  My daughter (2 years old) chose the nap without food.  She awoke from her nap in a pleasant mood and proceeded to ask for some milk, but we gently explained to her the choice she made.  At this point, we could tell we were setting up for the pasta and peas showdown.  At dinner time, my son climbed up in his chair and proceeded to dip the food my wife prepared for dinner this evening onto his plate and my daughter prepared to do the same…but instead was given her plate of pasta and peas (actually two things she regularly eats).  She was NOT accepting that…for some reason her fit of rage was amusing to me, because it was utterly silly (I wonder what my Heavenly Father thinks of me at times)!  Typically, these fits of rage on her end just send me over the deep end of anger…(who are you “oh little one” to tell your daddy what you are or are not going to eat!).  But for this evening I can truly claim victory over this besetting sin!  I calmly instructed her to quit throwing a fit and disciplined her appropriately.  I never lost my temper or responded in anger, and as a result, in my calm, gentle, training and instruction, I avoided succumbing to the anger of man and taught my daughter to obey!

Isabel Hope & Elliana Faith

I’m at a loss of words for where to start this blog post, so I started it with a picture.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of events in our home.  I am in awe of God for his protection and provision for our family (which started 4 years ago today – Happy Anniversary Angela !).  I am so incredibly grateful for my wife’s health and the birth our twin girls.  Isabel Hope (left arm – right in picture) and Elliana Faith (right arm – left in picture) were born on May 28, 2009.  They were born via c-section weighing 3 lbs 15.8 oz and 5 lbs 10.2 oz respectively.  While Elliana and mother were able to come home from the hospital on Monday, June 1st, Isabel remains in the NICU as she continues to grow and catch up from her intrauterine growth restriction due to her two-vessel cord .  My heart is so grateful as I reflect on the events of the past week, months, year, etc.  My joy in the Lord is as strong now as it ever has been.  I can see his goodness in the midst of trial and praise him.  I see His protection for His children (my wife and I) as He sees fit to answer prayers according to His will and not ours (Mark 14:36)!  I see we have a God who truly answers our prayers and am thankful for the body of Christ and everyone who has committed to pray for us.  I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts at a later date ~ but I just wanted to give Him praise, because he is worthy and due all glory, honor, and praise (Revelation 4:11).

Who Can Resist 23 Delicious Flavors?

For the last 11 weeks, I have been serving as “part-time” administrative assistant, since our office’s administrative assistant has been on maternity leave (only one week to go).  Since our office is rather small (6 people), they thought we could just get by without hiring a temp and that I could take care of most of the duties.  This past Wednesday we had a new printer delivered to our office.  Call me a geek, but I was rather excited by the opportunity to get to install it, since typically I work on the computer at least eight hours a day doing financial modeling for our clients.  So, needless to say, it was nice to get to do something unique and “work with my hands” for a little while.  I grabbed my freshly opened can of Dr. Pepper and went to work unpacking the 5 boxes of printer parts (there were a few add-ons) for our new Xerox Phaser.  I must say…it was a rather simple procedure, and it didn’t take me too long to get everything put together and working, but it was the highlight of my day!  So, I went back to the desk in my office to scroll through the e-mails I missed while I was out demonstrating my mechanical prowess.  As I settled in my chair to gauge my project list, I went to quench my thirst with a swig of pop…or so I thought…

…there was something wrong with my swig of pop…there was something else in my mouth…it wasn’t “liquidy”…it was “hard”…I had a mouth full of DP, so I couldn’t just spew it out anywhere…so I attempted to swallow the liquid, while refraining from swallowing the “hard” thing.  I didn’t know what to expect…I didn’t know if something had fallen in my can while I was working out at the printer or what.  Finally, after swallowing the liquid…I spit out the hard thing….to my horror it was an “asian lady beetle”!!!

My mouth tasted like the stench of these foul repulsive insects!  I was horrified…how could something dare screw up my can of Dr. Pepper?  I didn’t think the taste would ever go away.  I vowed vengeance on all “asian lady bettles” that dared to land in my office.  But then I realized…who can really resist the 23 delicious flavors of an ice cold can of Dr. Pepper?  So I washed out my mouth with a breakfast bar and happily returned to my can of 23 flavors (and there were only 23 flavors this time).

Four Things…

Four Things…

I was tagged by my wife, so I suppose I’m obligated to do this….

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Investment Banking Analyst
2. Youth Pastor
3. Credit Analyst Intern
4. Crop Scout

Four movies I’ve seen more than once:
1. Band of Brothers
2. Gladiator
3. The Green Mile
4. The Miracle

Four TV shows I watch:
1. St. Louis Cardinal Baseball
2. Iowa Hawkeye Football
3. House
4. Anything on ESPN (when I get the chance–we don’t have satellite!)

Four places I’ve been:
1. Bahamas
2. New York City
3. Orlando
4. St. Louis

Four people who email me regularly:
1. my wife
2. Brian
3. Kyle
4. Our Lighthouse

Four of my favorite foods:
1. BBQ Pork Ribs
2. Orange / General Tso Chicken
3. Smoked Cajun Pork Loin
4. Nachos / Chips & Salsa (with an extra dose of Jalepenos)

Four things I’m looking forward to in the next year:
1. Paying off debt!  Hoping to be debt-free besides our home
2. Leading a Ligthouse (small group at FFC)
3. Watching my kids grow and being with my wife
4. Building a website

God Alone Sustains

It’s been a while since I have had some time to blog. The last few weeks have been pretty hectic in the Squires household. Not only did my wife and I experience the pain of a miscarriage, but we also took on a home improvement project that has consumed all of our time and sleep for the majority of the past week. Nevertheless, God is still teaching, molding, and purifying us.

James 1:12 has been an encouraging verse to me in this time – “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Though I don’t understand it, I am thankful for the trials of faith that my wife and I have been called to endure. I know that someway, somehow God will work through all of this for His glory. I believe that God, through this trial, is teaching me to have a more thankful heart. God is purifying my heart to give him thanksgiving in the midst of trial. I am so grateful and thankful for the family he has blessed me with, my wife and two children. Most of all I am thankful for the sacrifice of Christ that pays the penalty for my sins, once and for all.

God has truly sustained my wife and I in this trial through various “vessels of grace”. We thank everyone for their prayers and support!