Monday, February 27, 2017

Try Before You Buy

There is a common phrase that people often use when trying something new, starting a new job, or getting into something that maybe they are unqualified for:

"Fake It 'Till You Make It"

My interpretation has always been, that this means that we should do our best to pretend like we belong until we "figure it out" and then, hopefully, we actually will belong. It may sound like I'm just trying to go against the grain here, and that is very possible, but I think there are a lot of things wrong with this approach. 

For the sake of this blog, and based on the last post, "One Life To Live", I'll be approaching this "fake it 'till you make it" mentality from the standpoint of exploring and living out the multiple possibilities that exist for our lives. 

As we try and determine an entirely new direction, work to add a new layer to our lives, or simply seek to branch out from our current path, I don't think we should fake it until we make it. The last thing that we need to do is pretend to be something we are not, long enough to convince and ourselves that we actually are that thing that we have been pretending to be. If we do, we may end up forcing ourselves down a path that isn't what we really want or need in our lives. There is no need to pretend as we map out who we want to be and where we want to go. 

My encouragement for you, is not for you to fake it until you make it, but instead, to Try Before You Buy. 

A Try Before You Buy approach has a number of advantages. 

First of all, this mindset protects us from just leaping at the first thing we see. It's very easy to mistake movement for growth. Often, we feel like in order to be growing, or succeeding, or getting better, that there needs to be a lot of activity taking place. Or when we feel stuck in a particular job, relationship, or situation in life, we often feel like we need to do something. And when we are in these places, we don't always make the best decisions. What can happen, if we are not careful, is that we end up jumping from one bad situation to another. And we look up after a few weeks, months, or years, and realize that we don't like where we are. So what do we do? We find something else to over commit to, without taking the proper time to fully vet the situation and determine if it is really a good move for us. 

Try Before You Buy can help us avoid this state of over emotional activity for the sake of activity. 

Another thing that this approach can do for us, is to help us take what we think or feel about a given situation and really test it out, to put some truth behind our hypotheses.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, in their book, Designing Your Life, call it prototyping. It's like running a test, to be sure what you are thinking about, actually works. It helps you recognize the good things and brings forth the flaws, in any new life change that you may be considering.  We may find that the job that we wanted since we were a little kid, is very different in reality than what we always thought it would be. We may find that the person we admired from afar, and who we would marry in a heartbeat, couldn't live up to our outsized expectations (or, high school relationships). Or maybe, the job, or place, or situation that we always knew we would hate, or just couldn't handle, turns out very different than what we built up in our minds. 

And it's better to learn these things from a Try Before You Buy approach, than it is a Fake It 'Till You Make It approach. When you try before you buy, you look at things with a curious, maybe even skeptical, eye. You measure out the pros and cons, you weigh out what works and what doesn't work for you and your given situation. And then you make the best decision that you can, based on the information that you have gathered. When you fake it 'till you make it, in some of these situations, you can force them to fit, even when they don't. 

I've prototyped a few extra lives (remember, we get many) over the course of my journey. Here are a couple that didn't pan out:

A number of years ago, I thought I might like to get into baking. Specifically, becoming a pie expert. Rather than selling my home, purchasing a commercial kitchen, and going all in on the path to becoming a baker, I decided to use the Try Before You Buy technique. So I started a blog, PiesbyBry (you may not believe this, but this current blog is a significant step up from that first effort) and began baking pies. My goal was one pie a week. I would dedicate a pie to someone I knew, and then tell a funny story about them and/or myself on the blog. This one didn't last long. I was at a friend's party when I first decided to start down this path. And despite all of the people laughing and carrying on telling me what a wonderful idea this was, very few people followed the blog. And nobody ever paid for a pie. I'm still a very capable baker of pies, but this was not something I needed to fully commit to. 

On another occasion, I spent some time testing out whether or not I could become a rapper, or at least, someone cooler than my current self, which, wasn't going to take much. So I decided to prototype an alter ego, going by the name, B-Fresh. I signed off on emails, B-Fresh. Not sincerely, or thank you, or take care. I just stopped writing whenever I got finished, and then...B-Fresh. Also, I started signing off in social situations the same way. So whenever I got ready to leave a room, or a group conversation, rather than saying "goodbye" or "see you later", I just said, "Ya'll B-Fresh". It was a real hit, in a very, very small circle. 

I was pretty close on this one. And I think there may still be a time when B-Fresh might make a comeback. But ultimately, I decided that the rapping game probably wasn't the best path for me and my family. So I settled for the next coolest profession I could think of....a teacher. 

I don't know that I've been very clear on this post...

The point is, when you want to try something new, go in a different direction, or simply add on to your current life, it's best to Try Before You Buy. Take this mindset of running some trial experiments, so you can test your hypothesis without (or at least, with less) emotion and thinking, and more experiences and truth. That way, you can make a decision that is more informed, and rooted in reality. 

And remember, it works both ways. When you are really excited about something, Try Before You Buy, so you can be sure that it is something that you should really move on. There is no perfect situation, despite what we may build up in our hearts and minds. On the flip side, when you are really down on something, that may be something you are going to have to do for a stretch, Try Before You Buy. In these scenarios, you might have to prototype the new situation and intentionally search for those things that are good and doable and find something that you can enjoy. Almost always, things are not as good or as bad as we make them out to be ahead of time. 

There is no need to panic when you end up in the "wrong" situation in your life, but I do think we need to use our 3.4 lives wisely. Try Before You Buy and you may find that you minimize the chances of ending up somewhere that you don't want to be. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

One Life To Live

I'm not sure what I should be feeling about the fact that when I thought of "One Life to Live", a soap opera came to mind. But I can tell you that what I am not feeling, is a sense of overwhelming pride.

I don't remember ever watching this show, but for some reason, I remember the name.

I'll try to recover and write a semi-respectable post.

I don't know about you, but I put a lot of thought into what I should be doing with my life, what I should be achieving, striving towards, or accomplishing.

There is a desire for there to be some meaning, purpose, or lasting impact that my life has. I want it to have mattered that I was here, in some way. I want to have been significant, in the grand scheme of things. I think I'll even settle for the tiny scheme of things.

At least, that is a battle that I have with myself. I don't know that it is always healthy, but it is something that I deal with.

And when I go to this place, the natural progression tends to lead me to a search for a career or profession that is going to allow me to reach those goals. And, when you start searching for answers to those questions online, you end up with a lot of this:

"Find Your Passion and Throw Caution to the Wind"

"How to Quit Your Job and Find Your Passion!!"

"3 1/2 Ways to Stop Living an Average Life and Find Your Purpose!"

"The Passionate Person's Guide to Living a Life of Purpose on Purpose"

Usually (and I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this area because, late at night, while my wife snores next to me, I'm scouring the internet looking for my passion and/or my purpose) these websites offer up advice in one of two ways.

One, they offer some very generic advice, telling you to think about the things that make you happy, and just to do more of those things, and how if you just pursue your passion, you can stay at home, and work online, or travel the world, and make a lot of money.

Or...they offer up an extremely long web page in which you scroll down for five minutes, until getting to the bottom, where they are offering you a chance to find your passion for three installments of $299.

For $1 more, they will also help you find your purpose.

Don't worry, I haven't purchased any of those programs.


I really think there are some good things about recognizing and understanding what you are passionate about, and as a Christian, I think there are some clear indications about what our purpose is here on earth. I also think that when it's possible, we should pursue our passions and our dreams, and those things that excite and invigorate us.

The problem with these websites and with much of the narrative that is out there, is that it often makes people feel like if they aren't living their passion (whatever that means) then they are living a second rate life.

And many people, often those who are deep thinkers or planners, focus on trying to get the right answer, right away (nearly impossible when considering life). 

What can happen, if we are ( I am ) not careful, is that we begin to think that there is one best way to lead our lives, and if we don't figure out what that is, we will be settling for second best. And that is simply not true.
      -Excerpted from Designing Your Life

But I am reading this book right now called Designing Your Life, written by these two guys who teach a class by the same name at Stanford. They both have a design background, and through a series of different exercises they help people design their life. One of the things that they have found, is that based on surveys they have given their students, that their students believe that they have an average of 3.4 "lifetimes worth of living" inside of them.

Now, I don't really know exactly what that means, and there is no research behind that number, but I think it's a neat concept.

What it means to me is that we have multiple lives within us, and though we only get to choose one at a time, there is no one perfect pursuit.


If we make a misstep, or choose "wrong" or end up down a path that we find out doesn't fit for us, we can restart, and go in another direction. We don't have to worry so much about finding the one best thing.

So no matter where we are, and no matter where we hope to be, I think we can take comfort in knowing that life is a long and winding road, and if need be, we can choose to head off in a different direction.

And if you are like me, you can relax a little, and quit trying to "discover your passion in 3 easy steps" or stop staying up late at night searching for your dream job, when you aren't even sure what that really means. There is no one great career that is going to allow me to leave a lasting legacy, and if there is, I'm certainly not going to find it for three easy payments and a small processing fee online.

I'll write later about how we can make the most of our 3.4 lives, and how we can explore some of these passions, dreams, ideas that we have about where we would like our lives to go.

But for now, I just wanted to encourage you that you have more than one life to live. There is no one right way. And if you get it "wrong" once or's okay.

There's plenty of living left to do.

Much Love,

Monday, February 20, 2017

We Need More Chuck E Cheese

Image result for chuck e cheese

While I was watching my daughter play basketball a few weeks ago, it struck me how much fun (most of) the kids were having. The kids who were playing were excited to be out on the court, they enjoyed each dribble, pass, and shot. It was all exciting to them.

And the kids on the bench were either totally enthralled by what was happening in the game, watching intently as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals, or, they didn’t care one bit about what was happening on the court, and they were climbing on the pull up bars or making fart noises with their underarms.

Either way, they were having FUN.
One of the coolest things that I’ve seen is my daughter’s response to when her teammates score. She jumps up and down with this weird, skipping fist bump every time one of her teammates makes a shot. I’m proud of her for that.

She doesn’t get the ball very much (and I don’t care) and she probably has made one shot all year. But when someone on her team scores she is SO excited for them, and for her team.

And I thought back to my coaching experience last year, and about how there were so many players that were constantly complaining, or disappointed, or no longer seemed to enjoy playing basketball. The simple fact that they were on a team playing was no longer enough to elicit joy. There were expectations, and frustrations, and judgements. These came from the coaches, their parents, the fans, and even themselves.

I wondered to myself (and also to my wife, who, because I often wonder weird things out loud, just said, “yeah….” and waited for me to start wondering to myself again):

“What happens to these kids?” and then I answered my wonder with, “WE do that to them. Parents, adults, coaches. WE mess that up”

I mean, how do we get from loving every dribble to wanting to quit a sport altogether, due to burnout?

How do we go from awkward, skipping fist bumps that celebrate our teammates to arguing about who had more points, or trying to outshine one another during games?

I’m no expert, and I don’t know it all, but I have a significant amount of experience coaching basketball. After one game I tried to give my daughter some defensive pointers, because she was playing defense just like this:

Image result for kid statue

She never moved, save for rotating at the waste. Kids were zooming right past her, and she just stood there with her hands up and watched them dribble right by her.

When I tried to coach her up a little bit about her defense, she stopped me right away,

“Daddy, that’s how you play defense...That’s what the coach said!”

I didn’t say anything else.

The last thing she needs is to hear me discredit the coach at 7 years old. Her coach said something and it doesn’t matter that I have all these years of experience coaching. HER coach said that is how to play defense, so that must be the way to play defense.

Nevermind that she looked like an arthritic, 1980’s, senior citizen’s jazzercise instructor.

Her coach told her to do it, so she was going to do it.

I’m proud of her for that too.

But where does THIS go?

At some point, kids and parents start engaging in what my friend used to call, “supper talk”.

We get around the dinner table, or in the car on the way home, or in the stands, and talk about how stupid the coach, teacher, or boss is. Or how he isn’t maximizing their potential. He hatin’, frontin’, stressin’, beefin’ or any other number of foolish ‘ins. By the time some kids are in middle school, they are already very comfortable questioning and disrespecting their coaches and teachers.

AND… I’m not saying, “kids these days”. I’m saying the opposite… Parents these days…
I think we need to be very careful not to guide our kids down this path, and not to steal their inherent joy. And when they start to lose it, because of outside influence, or “growing up” or whatever else might affect it, I think we need to help them hold on to it as best we can.  

I’m really just curious, and I don’t have a real answer, as to what happens to the joy and enthusiasm that kids have when they are playing at a young age.

I know some of the answers. All kids aren’t the same and some are already arguing and complaining right away, no matter how old they are.

Competition kicks in, and suddenly kids are battling for roster spots, playing time, and college scholarships. I understand that.

When I watch my daughter’s games, I constantly hear parents yell, “Shoot it!” “Just shoot it right now!” “Don’t worry about anyone else on the court, shoot it every single time you touch it no matter what anyone else on the court is doing. You and you alone deserve to score!!!”

Okay, I’ve never heard that last one. But I feel like some parents have come close.

I think if it were left up to the kids, they’d probably like to pass and share. And if they didn’t, then maybe we could teach them to share, rather than trying to teach them to DOMINATE!! at 8 years old.

I get that it’s a competitive world out there, and that we need to teach our kids that, so they can survive and thrive and be their best and all of those things.

But I wonder if part of the reason that they hit 17, and don’t really enjoy playing, or don’t know how to have fun while competing, or don’t know how to be a good teammate, is (partly) our fault, as adults. Namely, as parents.

Chuck E Cheese used to be a place where a kid could be a kid. It was also a place where you could overpay for some really terrible pizza.

I haven’t been to Chuck E Cheese in a while, but I think that maybe we are running out of places where a kid can be a kid.

I see it in sports.

I see it in my classroom, and I’m part of the problem.

There are so many standards, and tests, and requirements to hit, that most of the time it feels like it is a, “hurry up and learn!” mentality.

I don’t think that’s best for anyone. And as challenging as it is to teach, I think most all of the kids really do want to learn.

Even the kids who aren’t going to be Star Students any time soon, want to learn.

They just don’t want to hurry up and learn.

They don’t want to pass a benchmark, or hit our “numbers”. They just want to learn, and to be a kid.

There is a time for growing up, for sure, but it’s a gradual process, and one that shouldn’t be rushed I think. Especially in the name of scoring more baskets, or crushing everyone around you, or scoring high on the benchmark test.

It’s a good thing this isn’t an advice column, or answer column, or “ask the expert” column.

Because I don’t have any of that on this topic.

I’m just pondering out loud…

I think that every chance we get, we should remind ourselves that kids should be kids.

And we should let them.

Much Love,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Will To Win

Many times, when you see great sports performances, or hear about people accomplishing amazing things, the commentary will center around their “will to win”.

What is being communicated there, to me, is:

Against all odds, this person just “decided” that they were going to win/achieve/succeed, and because of that decision, and their unbeatable will, they reached their goal.

I think this makes a great story. People are inspired by “the will to win”.

I also think, mostly, that it isn’t true.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots recently mounted what seemed to be an impossible comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. They came back from 25 points down in the second half to defeat the Falcons. To explain all of that away as, the will to win, does the Patriots players and coaches a disservice.

In those moments, it seems to me that we cannot simply turn to our will and decide, simply by making a decision, to be successful. We can’t want it enough to make it so. There is a quote by an author by the name of Paulo Coelho, who is much more accomplished and well known than me, that goes like this:

“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

With all due respect to Paulo Coelho (seriously, I really enjoy his writing), and to everyone who posts this on instagram with some guy climbing a mountain in the background, or a picture of a Maserati with this quote underneath, I think this is bogus.

Wanting something doesn’t make it so. And while I do believe in the favor of God, I don’t believe that our desires alone pull in the forces of the universe to assure that we get what we want.

There are certainly some exceptions to my disagreement with the will to win. There are certainly times, in extreme circumstances, where we see ordinary people do extraordinary things, that may be completely inexplicable. Where there truly does seem to be a situation in which people have summoned something inside of them that even they didn’t know was there, to pull themselves out of a challenging, and even “impossible” situation.

Mostly, we miss the point when discussing the will to win. Sports announcers, coaches, and fans often like to talk about the will to win, or the “want to” as something that occurs on the moment. The idea is that when the game is on the line, it will go to whoever wants it the most.

Some of that is true, but most of it, to me, misses the mark. The will to win is not defined in pivotal moments. The will to win is defined by what we do when nobody is watching. The will to win is defined by how we treat people who can’t do anything for us in return. The will to win is born out of the decisions we make in our daily lives, that run counter to what we want.

The will to win is about the work that is done in the dark, away from the bright lights and accolades. Nobody wakes up one day as a neurosurgeon. No one rolls out of bed onto a Nobel Prize. Save for a lucky few, millionaires don’t get that way just because they wanted to.

The will to win, then is not about one moment in time, but it is the summation of moments, over the course of time, that allows us to be successful when the stakes are the highest.

These things happen over the course of time, and they are achieved, usually, because people have been willing to say yes to things that others weren’t willing to say yes to.

The extra rep, the late night reading, the early morning study session, one more phone call, or the willingness to look foolish in pursuit of a goal.

These things also happen because people have been willing to say no to things that others eagerly said yes to.

The extra piece of pie, the snooze button, listening to detractors, the shortcut mentality, or the offer for the easy way out.

We have to Dig the well before we are thirsty.

So yes, perhaps these people “wanted it more”. But they didn’t want it more in their moment. They wanted it more 6, 12, 24, 48 months ago. While the people around them were willing to go home early, or take the shortcut, or complain instead of compete, they stayed focused on their goal.

The will to win isn’t about having a desire, which, in turn, causes the entire universe to conspire in our favor.

No. Actually, the will to win is most often about being willing to continue on the journey when it feels like the entire universe is conspired against you!

Brady didn’t mount a Super Bowl comeback against all odds just because he wanted to. Tom Brady is one of the most well prepared, disciplined, hardest working players to ever play. His “will to win” Super Bowl 51 started long ago, by laying a foundation of toughness, mental conditioning, and leadership. It manifested itself on that Sunday, but make no mistake, he dug that well long ago.

At some point, whether we are moving towards Super Bowls, being a super dad, or just a comfortable retirement, we will all need to answer the bell, so to speak. I hope you won’t buy into the hype of the will to win, thinking that you can simply draw on your desires when the time comes, and you will magically get what you want.

You (and I) better get to work. Think about what you are saying yes to, and what you are saying no to. Maybe we need to make some adjustments. Whether we realize it or not, our will to win is being defined right now, in each and every day, in all of the “small” decisions that we are making. It’s being strengthened based on our character, our integrity, and how we behave when nobody else is watching.

The universe is not going to give you your Super Bowl ring, your million dollars, or your Maserati.

Much Love,

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Problem With Gravity

My last title, using the tricks I've picked up from reading other blogs, failed to drive much (any) traffic to my site. So, for now, it's back to normal.

 I've read recently about what one author calls "gravity problems".

These are problems that, even though we may like to complain about them, there isn't much we can really do to "fix" them.

For Example:

"Teachers don't make enough money. We work longer hours that the posted school hours, we spend our own money on our classroom supplies, and there is additional stress involved that outweighs the pay that we receive"

After a speeding ticket:

"Cops are jerks. They just sit around and wait to catch someone speeding so they can meet there quota. Shouldn't they be spending time catching real criminals"

"I really want to make a career change and do ____, but I can't get a job without going back to school for four more years. I know I can do that job, but nobody will hire me without the required certification and experience"

"School is so stupid. I'm not learning anything. I don't know why I have to go to school"

Note: I don't necessarily believe nor am I experiencing any of these issues, they are just examples.

But the point is, we often get stuck on things that we can't really change. These things don't have actionable solutions.

At least in our area of the country, there is little to nothing that we can do about teacher's pay overall. We don't have unions, and we don't have any control over the pay scale. They tell us what it is, they tell us when we will get a raise (or for how many years we won't get a raise) and that is pretty much it. We could write a letter to a congressman or something, or organize a strike, but the is little to be done to increase teacher pay from where we sit.

Write your congressman again, and let him know that you are angry that a cop gave you a ticket, and that you think it's because he was just trying to hit a quota. And then let me know how that goes...

If the career field that you have decided you want to change to, has collectively determined specific certifications and experiences are required to enter the field, that isn't changing.

Until you hit 18, you have to go to school. Unless you can convince your parents to home school you, but then, you are still in school. So.... There isn't anything you can do to change the fact that until you hit a certain age, unless your parents are willing to home school you or risk going to prison for allowing you to stay home from school, you have to go to school. Even your congressman can't help on this one.

In addition to the fact that we often get stuck on things we can't change, and then complain about them an awful lot, over and over and over again, focusing on gravity problems causes us to focus on the wrong problem.

In other words, if you want to make more money in the teaching field, there are specific, actionable things that you can do to make that happen. Getting more certification, becoming an administrator, creating things and selling them on Teachers Pay Teachers, etc.

The problem with you getting a that you were speeding...

The real problem that you may be having with your career, may not be making a change, it may be needing to find a situation that is better for you in your current field. Or maybe you make a change into a different role in that career field that you want, that doesn't require the extensive certification.

As good as I am at this blogging thing, I can't solve all of your problems, and I don't know what it is you might be stuck on.

(My next post: 11 1/2 steps to solve all of your problems in 3 weeks or less, in just 5 minutes a day)

But I think many times we get stuck on these gravity problems, the ones that we can't fix, and the ones that aren't usually the real problem anyway.

I encourage you to take a look at that thing that you've been stuck on, or complaining about, or wanting to change. Is it worth your complaints and your mind space? In other words, are there actionable steps that you can take to get to where you want to be, based on the problem you are focusing on?

If not, maybe get one more gripe in, if that makes you feel better, and then think about what the real problem is, and what steps you can actually take to move forward, at least mentally, if not personally, professionally, and spiritually.

I came up with this little reminder that might help you:

God grant me the serenitto accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Just kidding, someone else came up with that one.

This is certainly more than just an easy saying to remember. Take stock of what those things are in your life that aren't worth your energy in trying to change, and redirect that energy into finding solutions that are real, attainable, and meaningful to your journey.

Much Love,

Thursday, February 9, 2017

385 Ways To Be More Productive In The Mornings...And Make 1 Million Dollars

I've been reading a bunch of other articles on another platform, and I've noticed that they all have some very specific patterns when it comes to their titles. Usually that involves numbers, and bold claims based on things that just about anyone would be interested in. The intent is to get people to click on the link, and then write some absurd list of things that will make your life easier, make you a millionaire, help you find your passion, or increase your productivity. Usually, there is very little substance in the article.

I thought I'd see if a catchy title would increase my number of readers...

Hopefully there is still some substance here for you:

Slow down, you're moving too fast...

I'm reminded of this almost every morning as we get the kids ready for school and ourselves ready for work. Usually my wife and I both get up around 4:15, so that we can work out, and have a little quiet time to ourselves before the day starts.

If we are lucky, our son will sleep until about 5:15 or 5:30.

Once he wakes up, we shift out of relaxing morning mode, into fixing his breakfast, refilling his bottle, changing his diaper, and carrying him around as we try to manage our morning tasks. Our pace picks up a little, because there is much to do, and now we generally have one less hand, arm, or leg (depending on how our attention is used) to do those things with.

By 6:15, we wake up our daughter, who, for whatever reason, is an absolute grump in the morning. She must be prodded out of bed, carried to our bathroom, where she spends the next 10 minutes under special calming light bulbs listening to the sounds of ocean waves so that she can wake up peacefully.

So by 6:25, all arms are full, Harper needs a second breakfast, Hope needs to eat, I need to eat, shower, and get dressed. Hope needs hair done, teeth brushed, breakfast, her TV show, and her shoes untied so she can get them on, and then she needs to be reminded of all of those things because she wasn't listening the first three times we told her.

Basically, at 6:25, my wife and I begin auditioning for a spot on a Daytona 500 pit crew. Except rather than cars, we are dealing with tiny humans, who are fragile both physically and emotionally during the morning time. We are slinging towels, clothes, toothpaste, combs, eggs, toaster strudels, Ipads, and children all over the house in a semi-synchronized fashion.

And if anyone gets off pace, we let them hear about it right away. "Hurry up!" "Have you brushed your teeth? How about your hair? You can't find your comb, just use your toothbrush on your hair and your teeth, it's a brush, it will work on both!"

"Eat your breakfast! We are leaving in 3 minutes" "Just get your eggo into your mouth, you can swallow it on the way to school"

Image result for eating fast gif

Minus the spaghetti, this is what Hope looks like many mornings, trying to get any nutrients that she can in before I throw her into the car.

Usually, about the time we are walking out the door, Harper poops, and needs to be changed.

It's a little hectic. Sometimes, my wife and I speak to each other in the mornings.

And every morning, every single morning, I try to remind myself to slow down. I'm moving too fast.

Sometimes, I'll wake Hope up by laying down beside her and talking to her. She's still a grump, but it's a much more enjoyable transition than the one that occurs when I sling back the covers and tell her that we are wheels up in 45 minutes and that, unlike the Marines, we do leave men behind.

Sometimes, I'll play trucks with Harper, and we'll put out imaginary fires with all of his firetrucks. It's much better for him than watching cartoons, and it helps me start off the day right, by spending time with someone who is important, doing something that is important.

Every now and then, Jennifer and I will speak, maybe even string together a conversation.

Every now and then, I'll wrestle with the kids, which usually involves me tickling Hope, and Harper jumping on my head from the top turnbuckle. We all laugh, and enjoy each other before we start our day.

I hate hurrying my kids along. And at the risk of trying to sound deeper than I should, I hate rushing life along. And that's what we do each morning.

We need to slow down.

Hope needs to be told that she looks beautiful while we help her get ready.

Harper needs to be allowed to share his imagination with us.

My wife and I need to interact in ways other than quick soundbites, before we part for the next 10 hours.

These things don't take long, but they can't be done well in passing, with such great pace.

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to lose my job if I'm only 10 minutes early instead of 15.

But I do worry that I might lose my kids if I don't take the time to live with them, and let them live with me.

I don't know about you, but many times, we need to slow down. We are moving too fast. All of this will pass faster than we know. Life doesn't need any help rushing right along.

Try and enjoy the people that matter most.

Much Love,


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I Think You'll Be Okay

Image result for panic gif

Many times, when we are in the midst of change and challenge, we are scared to death. We are scared of what is coming next, because we don’t know what is coming next. We are uncertain about where the path leads, and we are frightened to fail.

For me and my family, it seems like we get wrapped up into this feeling that, “This could be it!” We get fed the lie, (and we believe it) that maybe if we don’t connect these dots (there are no dots) just right, our lives could change forever, and we might get off this one true path path (there is no one true path) that we are on, and we could do irreparable damage to our future.

So in the moment, or sometimes, the seasons, of these decisions and processes, we get scared. Beyond the irrational fear listed above, I’m not exactly sure what we are afraid of. Perhaps, it falls into these fears, as expressed by Steven Pressfield in The War of Art:

Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come back crawling to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours. Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked up choice for the rest of our lives.

Pressfield goes on to say that these are serious fears… but I don’t know if I completely agree.

They are...I think, but we magnify them to the point of crippling and killing our ambition. Any momentum that we may have mustered up, dissipates quickly as the list of these fears mounts.

Before I get any further, this is where all of this stems from, for me and my family.

We have decided to sell the house that we just purchased, and renovated, in an effort to pay off debt, generate a large down payment, purchase some investment property, so that my wife can work less and spend more time with our children.

In order to purchase the house, we took some calculated and stressful risks financially. During the time of the search and renovations, we went six deep at my parents’ house.

It was full of love but also people, and for some, stress. A sacrifice was made to get to this point. And the house is awesome, and in an amazing location.
Our kids are happy there, and so are we.

And now we are selling it.

There is part of this that may elicit little sympathy. I understand that there are greater sacrifices being made than selling a nice house to make a significant amount of money, to move into another nice house, so that my wife can work less. There are certainly more challenging things.

We get that. Really. And we remind ourselves of this truth often.

But it’s relative, right. Right now, this is our challenge. We spent 8 months of sacrifice, and just over a year after moving our family from one city to the next, and living in 3 different places in about 15 months, finally settling our family in, and feeling like we were going to settle in and stay...we are moving again.

We don’t know where we are going to live. Our house is under contract, and for that we are grateful. But we don’t know where we are going. We are nervous about any impact this might have on our children.

We also don’t know where my wife is going to work, and just how much of a hit we will have to take financially. And though we have plans as to how to offset some of that, we don’t know if those things will pan out either.

We are moving from a place of comfort and satisfaction, both in terms of a home and finances into a place that is unknown. We are fortunate that it is an option, but we are still taking a hit to our monthly income, and considering renting our house some to soften the blow. This wasn’t part of “the plan”.

And coming back to the truth…

The plan was destroyed long ago. It’s full of erasures, and stray marks, and dog eared pages. There is dried white out, and crumpled up pages. Some of them have coffee stains on them, some were torn up, thrown away, and then fished out of the trashcan and taped back together. Some pages were burned, never to be seen again. The plan… Come on…

And, here is where I stumbled upon my encouragement…

We are going to be okay.

And the reason I’m certain of this, is that we are okay now.

We have survived the revisions, including the ones that we made, and the ones that were made without our permission. Through them all, we’ve been okay.

And some of them have been painful. Some of the revisions to the plan felt more like revisions of our souls. Sometimes mine, sometimes my wife’s, and sometimes both. Some of the revisions felt like they were created and delivered by Satan, and we wondered why God allowed them.

Some felt like they were created by God, and we wondered why God would do such a thing.

Some, of course, have been hand delivered by God, and have been wonderful.

Some of the revisions to the plan, that we made, in retrospect, were really, really stupid.

And throughout this journey, my wife and I have often looked at each other, and wondered what was going to happen. We wondered what was coming next. Many times we feared what was coming next. And sometimes, we were certain, that whatever was coming, was going to be permanent. That we might never recover. Surely this new change would alter our family for generations to come. And somewhere down the line, one of our great, great grandsons, probably Bryan the 5th, would blame us for the way his life was turning out.

Sometimes that “defining moment” was viewed from the pit. Like, maybe we won’t ever get out.

Other times, we felt like we were standing on top of a mountain. Like, maybe we won’t ever come down.

Ultimately, the truth I’ve come upon, is that in both circumstances, through all of the different ways the plan has been revised…

We’ve been okay. And we will continue to be okay.

We love each other. God loves us. And we are going to be just fine.

Hooray for Philippians 4:13, and all of the sports posters that have been created to give the feeling that it means that you can move that ball across the one yard line in the 4th quarter.

But (and this is just my spirit talking) I think we miss the mark with that. Connected to Philippians 4:13 is 4:12, and through it, we get a truer picture of the message.

12: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
13: I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

I’m not really any authority to be offering commentary on the Bible. However, I think “all this” means being in need, and having plenty. Being well fed and hungry. Being content.
I can go through all of that...because Christ abides in me.
Not that I have any business editing the Bible. But right now, I feel like for us, verse 13 B would follow up with:

You are going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. Stick with me, Stick together, and you’ll be okay.
I wrote the plan in the first place. Trust me as it changes.

We’ve thought it was ending before. And yet, here we are...

Much Love,