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.
After 6 months of support-raising and learning a new organization and meeting new people and dabbling in speaking on behalf of LAUNCH, this was the moment I knew I am exactly where I am meant to be.
When I was speaking at an High School Event not long ago, one of the students got up at the end and in front of the room said, "My name is Shane, and I want to say thanks! Your talk today got me excited about my future."
WHAT!? Pardon me? I did what now? My words affected you how?
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.
We are desperately trying to lock eyes with God, if only for a second, or trying to get close enough to touch His foot so we know He is real. But what if that’s not the point? What if I missed the best part of the concert (the music and the people I was with) because I was so focused on the goddess dancing in her red boots under the lights?
Christians can get so caught up trying to get the attention of the lead singer on stage that they miss their friend falling down next to them from dehydration.
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.
I heard them squawking from far in the distance, then looked up to see two Canada Geese flapping across the sky at dusk. They might have been a couple, but if I didn't know better I'd say one was chasing the other.
They were floating in a nearby pond, having a lazy evening when the one goose said, "look at that, a dolphin in the pond," and pointed down to the water with his beak. When the other goose fell for the fake out and looked closer, the trickster lifted out of the water and stood right on top of the other, submerging her in the mucky pond-water. Then he flapped his hardest to get a head start! As they flew across the sky just above the trees, one was yelling, "get back here, you jerk!" And the other was laughing so hard he could hardly stay in the air. Their going to lay their eggs soon. Those ducklings have a silly daddy.
Inspired by the book Ideas Are All Around, I see stories in everything now.
Like, the girl who puts her shoes on the wrong feet every single time. She doesn't seem to care, she is asked to get her shoes on, so she does.
Why worry about the details of which shoe goes on which foot? Just go.
She should get things right before she moves forward. But to her, moving forward is the right thing to do, regardless of where your shoes are.
I'm going to write a bunch of short stories, some will be good, others will be terrible. It may not work but at least I've got my shoes on and I'm moving forward.