A Blog, a Book, and a Baby

July 23, 2011 — 5 Comments

I know she still looks kind of like an alien, but she will be gorgeous when you meet her in real life.

 

Around the beginning of 2011 I made a commitment to write more on my blog this year than I did last year.

No comment.

It’s been over 3 months since my last blog post. A ton of stuff has happened since then. During these jam-packed months I’ve been rattling an idea around in my head:

Every choice we make matters.

I formalized this thought while preparing for a group discussion I gave at summer camp where I connected video games and our faith. Certain video games today are so sophisticated that the player has a significant amount of freedom and choices in how they want to play the game. These choices drastically change the outcome of the game and the environment in which the gamer plays. Some of these games, like the Mass Effect games, even carried the consequences of these decisions over to their sequels. Tiny, seemingly insignificant choices in one game can dramatically affect the plot in multiple other games. Video game characters can live or die because of the choices the player makes, and the story continues either way. The amount of programming required to create these games simply astounds me.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this concept of choice since preparing my camp discussion. Let me give you three examples how this idea has played itself out in my life through the following three examples: a blogs, a book, and a baby.

A Blog

As I alluded to earlier, it’s been a really long time since I’ve written last. This spring has been extremely busy and the summer has proven to be just about the same. I frequently felt exhausted or drained.

Meanwhile, I rarely exercised, spent much time with God, read, or wrote. I did have some free time, however. Unfortunately, I spent a large part of that time fiddling around with iPad apps, watching TV, or playing video games.

What was keeping me from writing more often? Most of the time, it was something very simple.

A choice.

I’d wake up on my day off and I would face a choice. Do I reach for my iPad and waste 90 minutes before I really start my day or do I get out of bed and find my laptop to write a blog post? I’d come home from church and instead of taking the laptop out of my backpack to write, I’d grab the Xbox controller or the TV remote.

“I’ll think of something to write tomorrow” became a mantra and “tomorrow” turned out to be three months long.

A Book

During these months, one of the few books I did read was Switch. You need to read this book. Whoever you are, whatever you do for a living, however old you are, go start this book today. You won’t regret it.

Switch is a book about change. It lays a blueprint for making change easier in our lives. The authors, Dan and Chip Heath, outline steps for creating change in our personal lives, in our loved ones, at the office, institutionally, and even internationally. Each chapter blew me away and contained a tangible, implementable tip for making change easier.

The logic behind this book is the reason why I actually made it to the gym today. I left my house to buy a Dr. Pepper at the closest gas station to accompany my pizza lunch (Sara is gone for the weekend…). I realized that I had my gym clothes in my car, waiting to be used. Based on the book, I’ve learned to shape my environment by deliberately keeping a pair of gym clothes in my car. That way, at the moment of decision, it’s that much easier to make a choice that I want to make.

At 2nd Ave N, I was literally at a crossroads. On the left was the gas station and to the right was the gym. “Just a quick trip to the gym before I buy my pop,” I told myself.

Getting in shape happens through the small choice to take “just a quick trip to the gym” made repeatedly. It’s a tiny choice. Just 30 minutes of my 24 hours today.

A Baby

The ultrasound pictures above are of our 23 week old baby girl (yes, we have a name picked out and no, we won’t tell). We got these pictures just this last week when we found out her gender. She is our first child, and we are totally excited to meet her on or around November 30!

The idea of fatherhood has felt abstract until this last week. If I had any doubts before, these pictures are proof that I’m actually going to be a dad soon.

While growing up, most people daydream about their future. They wonder what type of a parent they will be or what their life will be like when they have their children. I can remember being about 15 and thinking that I will need to be a healthier eater when I’m a father. It was ok, though. I had years to work on that. At 20 I daydreamed again about fatherhood. Once again I surmised that I should eat better as a father. Oh well, it was still years away. 5 years later, I still daydreamed and still didn’t eat my vegetables.

On March 21, 2011 I discovered that Sara and I would be parents this fall. I also was still an unhealthy eater. “Well, I’ve got 9 months to get my act together. I’ll start tomorrow.”

Remember where I was headed earlier today? More pizza and Dr. Pepper. Somehow, not much has changed in the last 12 years. I’m still an unhealthy eater.

Every choice we make has incredible importance.

Colossians 3:23 encourages us to commit everything we do to the Lord.  I don’t do this nearly enough. Instead, I deceive myself into thinking that my trivial choices don’t mean much. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Olympic champions, expert musicians, master writers, loving fathers, and faithful Christians are formed one choice at a time, on a daily basis.

What has been nagging you on your to-do list lately? What do you wish you could do better? Don’t wait for tomorrow to make that change. This post wouldn’t be here if I had waited until tomorrow. If the task seems too difficult to do today, how can you shrink it down to do part of it today? What is God calling you to do? Reply in the comment section below.

Austin

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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • Davro

    Switch looks like a great book from the amazon preview I was able to read. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • austindhill

      Any time. It was compulsive reading. I felt let each chapter had a ton of implications ministry and my personal life. Definitely a great book for church workers of any kind. Enjoy!

  • Good thoughts. My issue isn’t so much choosing to do as it is choosing what NOT to do. I find myself defined by my doing, finding acceptance in all the things I can juggle at one time, then falling flat on my face. Your words give me a lot to chew on.
    Thank you also for your ministry at 1st Presby. My husband and I are new there and we are enjoying the authenticity and worship. ( Hubby also fast food and Dr Pepper references as he is an avid fan of both (= )

  • jean black

    Great thoughts Austin. In my experience, there is no better motivator in life than taking home a new baby. Suddenly things you thought you could never change becomes a priority. A baby will make those good choices easier because of the amazing love that you have for her. Thank you for your honesty, transparency and your ministry.

  • First, huge congrats on the newest member of the Hill clan; completely elated for you and Sarah. Moving on: I noticed that few people commented on your points connected to fitness. I am convinced that a number of pastors have an ultimately immature, ivory towerish view of self discipline given our preponderance for utter neglect of basic health, whether we’re talking about a work/life balance, eating habits, exercise, what have you–most pastors are pretty terrible at growing healthily in these departments.

    I can relate to the sentiment you mentioned about getting around to “it” tomorrow, whatever “it” happens to be, and it seems that one often requires something catalytic to shift paradigms to a more assertive and ultimately far healthier way of life. In my case, it took the painful loss of a serious relationship, and something like a long look in the mirror juxtaposed with a longer look for a categorically new direction. As the saying goes, “To get what you’ve never had, do what you’ve never done.” The perfect balance health-wise turned out to focus on smaller but more frequently consumed meals with more protein and vegetables, three days a week cycling on a high intensity interval training regimen I actually enjoyed, and three days a week rocking http://www.simplefit.org.

    I can’t say with any credibility that I’m exactly where I want to be now, but I understand discipline from a more mundane yet also more substantially spiritual perspective as a result. Also, I am freaking stronger than ever before with more energy to burn than I can remember since back when I was really into breakdancing and gymnastics…over a decade ago. I’m grateful that your catalyst turned out to be the forthcoming birth of your daughter, and I’ll rejoice at the ways God will continue to use this to prompt wise choices (as Jean put it) “because of the amazing love that you have for her,” a love trumping the inclination for the smoother, broader, downward rode to indifference and degradation.

    שלום