The Integrated Life

by Stephen W. Smith

Today in Colorado–well it’s stunning and mesmerizing. It’s why I chose to live in such staggering beauty. I took a long drive today into the foothills and my road took me up and down, swaggering by hills and through green pastures. Beauty that is intoxicating. I stopped at a favorite tea house where I ordered French Press Coffee, Carrot Cake and ice water and just basked in the sunshine.

Glory! Why is it, that carrot cakes seems to help almost everything and everyone?

Then I reached for my journal and began to write a page about how deeply I am longing to live what I am going to call “the integrated life.” A life that I will begin to share with you here. I came up with ten descriptions of the integrated life I want to live. In post after post, Gwen and I will begin to share our hearts, soul’s longings and deep stirrings with you. Perhaps our thoughts will stir you to think more deeply; more contemplatively; more reflectively about the life that you are living and whether you are happy with the life you are living.

Here’s how the dictionary defines the word “integrate:”

in·te·grate
   [in-ti-greyt] Show IPA verb, -grat·ed, -grat·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole.
2.to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do.
3.to unite or combine.
4.to give or cause to give equal opportunity and consideration to (a racial, religious, or ethnic group or a member of such a group): to integrate minority groups in the school system.
5.to combine (educational facilities, classes, and the like, previously segregated by race) into one unified system; desegregate.

I want all of this in my life. I’m tired of managing silos of work, health, family and faith. I don’t believe in silo thinking any more. I don’t believe in the balanced life any more. I believe the balanced life is a myth and lie that someone invented to sell books and fill seminars. I’ve tried to find balance. Now I am liking two words, far, far better than balanced! They are the words integrated and rhythm. I’ll explain more in the blogs to follow.

I met today with some social marketing geeks who are going to help us revamp our blog, give a face lift to our old look and capture the message we will begin to share with you.

OK blog readers. I invite you to comment. What do you think an integrated life looks like? Do you want one? What can we do to live the life we want?

Copyright 2011. Stephen W. Smith

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Morphing the Blog

Gwen and I have decided, together, to morph this blog. We’re going to be doing some significant changes in upcoming days and weeks. And the most important is that we’re going to enter entries together. Both of us will be writing on this blog and the focus of our writing and musings will be our own interaction with the topic and themes in my new book, The Jesus Life: Eight Ways to Re-discover Authentic Christianity.”

Why are we doing this? We’re doing this for three main reasons. Both of us want to desperately live–The Jesus Life. We’re tired of the church life, the busy life, the American life and more. In the book I explore how to return to the life Jesus described and offered–the abundant life. That’s the life we want. Second, Gwen’s gotten so much favorable feedback from her writing on her Caringbridge.org site, (her recovery from major back surgery) that we felt this would be a great outlet and spiritual practice to just write, share our thoughts and encourage our on-line village of friends and companions to journey with us into The Jesus Life. Third, we’re doing this because we want to invite you into the life we are leaning into. We want to discuss, dialogue and divulge our heart with you as we interact with the most important and some of the most neglected themes of our times. In The Jesus Life, we’re going to explore some of the content of the book; give you excerpts BEFORE the book is published and ideas on how to integrate what is shared. It will be personal. It will be real. It will be heart-felt. And it will be from both of our perspectives–male and female; husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter of God and fellow pilgrims on this long arduous journey home.

So, after some significant changes to our blog in the new week, we’ll be up and running. I hope you’ll spread the word!

We hope you’ll “subscribe” to the blog and share this with your friends. We hope you’ll consider journeying with us together as we embark on this new chapter of our life, marriage, work and family!

Blessings,

Steve

Being Mad as Hell About the Value of My Life

by Stephen W. Smith

Seems like a rather bold headline from a former preacher doesn’t it? But today, I’ve been working on another chapter for a forthcoming book titled, “The Jesus Life”.  I’ve been sitting here wondering how the message of Jesus–about all the life he promised to give us has gotten to terribly screwed up and furthermore, who is really responsible for messing up the message of Jesus.

I wrote some paragraphs in the manuscript about how Jesus saved his furious wrath for the most religious right of his day–the Pharisees who took control of the truth, withheld it from thirsty men and women and morphed it into long lists of rules and regulations.  As I just sat for a while thinking about this, I got mad…angry. I said to myself, “I”m mad as hell can can’t take this anymore.”  I was feeling a surge of passion, adrenalin and in my old Baptist world, what is known as “Holy Ghost power.”

So, as I sat here, I remembered where those lines, for me, became indelibly imprinted on my soul. It was through the words of a frustrated news anchor in a movie called, NETWORK.

I googled the entire lines and they are worthy of posting here. But what I’m thinking about is encouraging people across America standing up in their Sunday morning worship services and shouting these lines out as the call to worship–of course–, “I’m mad as hell and can’t take it anymore!”

Now, before you actually do that, do you think you’re preacher would listen to you; to us?  Read these words and I’ll edit out one blasphemy for you.  ]

But what I think is this…until we get mad as hell, about how we’ve been duped and perhaps doped into a life that is not possibly the LIFE that JEsus promised we may never really find or experience the life he came to let us live… I’m sure my editor will not let this go in the book, but as I’ve said, you’ll read my book first here then the real thing has to wait until 2012 to come out. Yes, that long!

Now, here’s the quote from Network when Howard Beal, the network reporter who gets fired up:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, GodXXXXit! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

My questions (and this is Steve) is how would the pastors/preachers in America react if we all did this–THIS coming Sunday? I’m not saying get mad about what Howard Beale got fired up about. I’m talking about getting mad–feeling the anger over why so many of us are not living the abundant life and has this message been hijacked by the men in robes who want to promote church rather than tell us how to really live?

[I’d love your comments and feedback. Maybe I’m off here. Or feeling uneasy about the Chinese lunch I thought I enjoyed a bit ago.]