We are swinging back around to that bit in chapter 4, dipping my toe back into the acting pool because its still what I'm made for. Or at the very least, I have to know if I can do this. I'm certain I won't become famous, rich, or win awards from acting. But I'm trying it out an that is the victory in this part of the journey.
We need each other. We need to learn from each other. We desperately need to not base our lives off some subtle tendency to compete in every little way. Whether you're parenting small kids - or big kids for that matter - or you're starting a business or getting married or buying a house or creating art or feeding others or any number of other noble efforts you might be up to today, you're new at it, and so are we.
The best no is said with confidence.
This is not based on insecurities or disillusionment but because the thing you're facing is simply not what you're made for. You say 'no' to that fast food, another night of binge-watching Netflix, or spending another moment in an place or relationship that is destructive. You are starting to get an idea of what you ARE made for in this life, so you begin to say 'no' to anything distracting you from that.
Your entire life story can be narrowed down to whether you say 'yes' or 'no'.
Every day, every conversation, every meal, every game you play, each picture you post, they all require you to say yes to something and no to something else.
I love it when people say yes, because that means you are opening a door to a new experience...
We are one body.
If I am an eye, I need the ears. If I am the hand, I need the foot, and the fingers, and the armpit, and wrist, and brain, and eyes, and spine, and the extra skin on the end of the elbow, in order to do my job well. But you also need me if we are going to accomplish anything of significance and influence.
I couldn’t do the ‘alone’ thing forever. It works best when I know that there IS a team with me, somewhere, that I can call on for help and support. And I bet that’s how most of us really are. Regardless of how you perform at your best, whether that’s with a team or on your own, you need to know that at any given moment you can be just you, or you can be part of this team, listening to, learning from, and laughing with others to create something amazing.
Rhythm, and routine - action, rest. Some of us build such a routine into our lives there is no room for something new. In fact, we freak out when something new is added to the routine, like a line of ants marching to the hill we move around the 'thing' and keep the line going.
Maybe that disruption in your life is there so you can discover something new today.
Last year I decided that I wanted to read more. Because I have lived with the assumption that everyone else reads more than I do, and sometimes absurd comparisons like that can lead to positive life changes. So, I'm gonna read.
I ended up reading more than 12 books (13 to be exact), which is more than I've ever read in a calendar year in my 32 years of life.
THIS year I chose to set a goal. A goal that would push me further, but also a goal that I could absolutely obliterate if I really wanted to. And also, I suppose, in the process of demolishing my goals I would get to read a lot of really great books that help my brain be better and stuff.
The goal - Read 18 books. 1.5 per month.
Or, more likely, 2 for the first ten months and 16 through November and December.
In January I finished 6 books! (full disclosure, two of them I began reading in 2015, but this is my goal, and I'm excited, so shut it!)
Since then I've managed to find space to read and listen to some books that I have wanted to dive into for quite a while now. I think there are two reasons this is succeeding, and they apply to just about any goal you might have:
a) I have to choose [reading] instead of other activities.
Which include but are not limited to: watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, watching baseball, sleeping, scrolling Instagram, giggling at Jimmy Fallon vids, and staring aimlessly at the ceiling.
b) I have been rewarded by [reading] in ways I didn't know I could be.
Which include but are not limited to: reading to my wife (Harry Potter), learning how to talk about the Bible to my kids (Telling the Story), and growing a passion for a need I was unaware of (It's Not Okay With Me).
Here's the first 8 books I read this year.
*With a tiny review and completely objective score attached*
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling - (4/5), I am loving these books, and this one was really exciting with the tournament and all, but I get to the end and feel like I could've saved some time and just read the last 3 chapters to capture everything that happened that year at Hogwarts. Maybe that's normal, but it cost Rowling on my scoring system.
2. Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal - (2/5) I read this for my Leadership Development class, it's another classic case of a blog post that was extended into a book. Could have been much shorter, there were a couple of great chapters, but too many words.
3. It's Not Okay With Me, Janine Maxwell - (5/5) I don't know how to talk about this book, the stories are gut-wrenching, the challenge is immense, and a response is required. I know and care about hurting children in the slums of Kenya more than I ever have.
4. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield - (5+/5) *Second Reading* The easiest to read, most underlined, and most kick in the butt challenging book I know. If you want to not do what you're made for, keep not reading this book. Otherwise, get it, now.
5. Flesh, Hugh Halter - (4.5/5) A great way to look at how we think about Church. Halter is bold and seems to be the real deal, living out what he's talking about. He almost has inspired me to be a bi-vocational pastor...not yet though.
6. Telling the Story, Peter Enns - (5/5) I'm so very thankful for this book at a time when we are trying to figure out how to talk to our kids about the Bible in a non-fundamentalist way. Enns suggests that we start with Jesus, and always point to Jesus. It seems so obvious, right?
7. Covenant & Kingdom, Mike Breen - (3/5) Love the practicality of reading the Bible through this lens, but he could have cut the book in half.
8. Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli - (5/5) Such a beautiful display of story and truth that speaks beyond academic knowledge to the depth of your soul. Reminds me a lot of Brennan Manning; we are a mess and in the mess is where we find God, so deal with it.
I understand that for some of you, this is not a big deal at all. It would be like me trying to have a marathon runner be excited that I walked to pick up the mail today; it's a good start. And I agree, it is a good start. I doubt I'll ever be someone that reads 100 books in a year or more, I don't think I have to be. So, today, I'm celebrating the small goals, and the fact that I'm on pace to beat my big goal!
Get out there, set a goal, and move towards it.
By the way, I will post the next 8 books shortly.
Currently I'm reading a few different ones: The Alchemist (FINALLY), Love Does, The King Jesus Gospel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Show Your Work.
What are you reading?!
There is something about the clothes we put on each day that remind us what we're a part of and what we're supposed to be doing with that day. And I'm not just talking about the people that are putting on a company shirt, or brown shorts, or a badge and holster, or a green apron. I believe that each day we can clarify our purpose for the day based on what clothes we put on.
Throughout the story all that we see is a continual emergence of God within the worst moments of our lives. War, famine, slavery, idolatry, abandonment, abuse, greed, gluttony, and the presidential campaign of 2016...believe it or not, God is still with us.
I'm beginning to understand that God doesn't love me despite who I am,
he loves me because of who I am!
Do you know anybody that has a renovation project in their house that hasn't been completed? It just sits there half-finished, or it's being worked on one little bit at a time. I completely understand why DIY projects don't get completed. When you've done the fun part of tearing everything apart, you're then faced with reality of the amount of work ahead of you.
Looking ahead at the amount of work it will take to reach the goal can either motivate you or paralyze you.
The thing I'm most passionate about is being in front of people and inspiring change through public speaking - it's what I'm made to do, it is what's in my hand.
So I'm sitting here, trying to figure out how to turn this passion into a project and I just want to quit. I want to stop. I want to shut this all down and find a steady-paycheck-job. Why?
Because I'm just so afraid.
The best thing you can do as a Youth Worker is to understand what is in your hand and focus on growing and leading well in that area.
Moses was a shepherd, that's why he had a staff in his hand, that's why when he asked about how he was going to do what God wanted the response was, "WHAT'S IN YOUR HAND?" In other words, "MOSES! Don't you know who you are and what you're made to do?"