Friday, September 30, 2011


Below are the top 5 posts for the month of September.

  5. TODAY
If you don't blog, you should. There is power in committing your thoughts to paper. 

As I approach this weekend and beginning a new month, a couple of thoughts come to mind:
  • If you have a Kindle and don't check out's Kindle Deal of the Day, you should. They offer one Kindle book a day at a deep discount. Most of the books are sold from $.99 to $1.99. I've bought several excellent books very cheaply. Click here to visit the Kindle Deal of the Day.
  • I just finished Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. This is probably my favorite book of 2011. If you are interested in memory, you should check it out. This is not a "dry" read at all.
  • The next book that I plan to read is Seth Godin's We Are All Weird. This is another short manifesto from one of the influential thinkers of our time. 
  • Many people from our church are going to see Courageous at the movies this weekend. If you've not seen the trailer, you can check it out here.
  • The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend in Baton Rouge. I hope it is wherever you are.
  • I hope you are doing something meaningful this weekend. Go out into the world and make a difference or stay at home and make a difference with your family. Either way...make a difference this weekend!
QUESTION: If you blog, what was your favorite blog post of the month? If you don't blog, did you read a favorite blog post this month?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"Now you know the rest of the story."
~Paul Harvey 

I love stories. The most engaging speakers and communicators are masters at teaching through the use of stories.

The same well-crafted story can hold meaning simple enough for a child to understand or complex enough to challenge adults. Jesus did this often with His use of parables.

StoryCorps is an interesting website. Below is the description from their website:
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.
We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.
In addition to loving stories, I love kids. I have the great fortune of working each and every day with second and third graders as the assistant principal at an elementary school. If you want to fill your heart with joy, spend a day with elementary kids.

I ran across the video below on StoryCorps a while back and wanted to share. As the notes on YouTube explain, ”Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best – and the most challenging – parts of being a parent.”

This is a touching and uplifting 4-minute video.

QUESTION: What is one of your favorite childhood stories? Please leave comments below.

Monday, September 26, 2011


"If you have a goal in life that takes a lot of energy, that requires a lot of work, that incurs a great deal of interest and that is a challenge to you, you will always look forward to waking up to see what the new day brings."
~Susan Polis Schultz

Seven Clubs by Tim Ellis

There is one question for which you should always have a ready answer: What am I doing to grow?

One aspect of intentional living is personal development. This is separate from setting family goals, career goals, financial goals, etc. We should always be working on self-improvement.

The answer to this question should be a deeply personal one. This is not about impressing others or striving to grow in an area that someone else believes we should improve upon.

This is all about growing as a person. If you are confused on personal development goals, below are some examples:

- learning to play the piano
- training to run a 5k
- writing a blog
- reading a specific book
- completing a project around the house
- starting an eBay business

I can’t define your personal development goal, because it has to be something that grabs your heart.

As we begin a new week, my hope for you today is that you can quickly and definitively answer the question: What am I doing to grow?

If you can answer that question, then go and make progress today. The world is waiting on you.

If you can’t answer that question, you have some work to do. Sure, we all have obligations, but don’t forget that when you are learning and at your best then you are better able to be “there” for those you love.

QUESTION: What are YOU doing to grow? Please leave comments below.

Friday, September 23, 2011


"To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done - this is how I desire to waste wisely my days."
~Thomas Dekker

Sunrise and the Boat by Henri Bergius

Late yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk in my neighborhood. My wife, Aimie, was at a school function so I was by myself. As I walked, this crazy sense of peace and excitement and joy and contentment (all at once) just washed over me.

The sky was blue with orange-tinted clouds. The air was slightly cool and the birds were chirping. I even saw the owl that I usually hear, but can never find.

I've talked about magic moments before, but that's what it was. It was just one of those moments that you hold onto and wish that it would not end.

Have you had a moment like that recently? It won't happen by sitting on the couch watching TV or reading Facebook or surfing the internet. It might happen when we open our heart to another person or go outside or take our mind off of ourself.

As you walk through today and the weekend, I want to challenge you to seek out those fleeting moments of joy that sometimes appear without a warning. Don't try to hold onto it too long - let it run its course. If we try to hold onto it too tightly, it will leave all the more quickly.

I recently came across the quote above. I need to write it down and keep it with me for a while. There is much truth about living each day contained in that quote.

Now...go, and live today fully. Embrace your story and live it for all it's worth.

May you "waste wisely" today.

QUESTION: I love the changing of seasons - it's a renewal of sorts. What is your favorite season?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. "
~Saint Augustine

Hope by Jens Auer

I read and cut out the following story from Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family bulletin in December of 2000. This is a great story about humility and seeing things as they truly are.
In Proceedings, the official magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch reported on a very unusual encounter at sea.

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather. Shortly after the sun went down, the lookout reported a light in the distance, so the captain had the signalman send a message: "We are on a collision course. Advise you change course 20 degrees."

Minutes later a signal came back: "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees."

The captain angrily ordered that another signal be sent: "I'm a captain. Change course 20 degrees."

Again came the reply: "I'm a seaman, second class. You had better change course 20 degrees."

Furious by this point, the captain barked a final threat. "I'm a battleship! Change course 20 degrees!"

The signal came back: "I'm a lighthouse."

The captain changed his course.

I don't care how big and powerful a person may become; it's foolhardy to ignore the beacons that warn us of danger. They take various forms: symptoms of health problems, prolonged marital conflict, rebellious children, excessive debt, stress that ties us in knots. These are the warning signs of approaching danger. It matters not that we're successful, influential, and busy.

When a seaman, second class, sits in a lighthouse somewhere and signals, "Change your course," the wise captain does so with haste.
QUESTION:  Why do we miss so many of the "lighthouses" in our lives? Please post comments below.

Monday, September 19, 2011


One of the best-selling books in the 1980s was M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. In this book, the first line reads: “Life is difficult.”

How do you like that for an opening sentence?

Beginning in the next sentence, the author further explains the statement:
"It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

Window Frame by David Master

One key to living an intentional life is embracing our story – whatever that story is. Although I know that life is difficult, I also know that life is good. When we spend days, months, and years wishing for a different story, we miss the life that is being written for us.

When I talk about embracing our story, I am referring to the circumstances in our life that are out of our control. Many of the situations that we face in our life are of our own choosing. Some are not. 

Today I’m talking about those circumstances that we wish we could change and, for whatever reason, we cannot. Examples that come to mind are ones such as disease, loss of a loved one, disabilities, infertility, and other circumstances that we just can’t really explain.

As I reflect on embracing my story, four thoughts come to mind:

1. Consciously embrace your story daily.
A while back, I wrote about Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In this book he talks about the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is about facing the facts of your current reality and believing that you will prevail in the end (read more about this idea here).
Our story is our story. We can deny it, try to suppress it, or go into depression because of what it is. But whatever we choose to do, it is still there.

Our story is unique. To live fully, we must embrace our story.
2. Realize there may not be an answer for why your story is written the way it is – stop trying to figure it out.
We must stop trying to figure out why we have been chosen for our particular story. I remember hearing NBC news anchor John Chancellor give this quote when he was faced with life-threatening cancer: “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”
That quote almost paints God as one who scoffs at our troubles and I do not believe this is His response. But, as a Christian, I fully believe that God has no obligation whatsoever to explain to me why I have been given a particular story.

When I listen to preachers or Christians who talk of the prosperity Gospel, I just cringe. There are numerous stories in the Bible of Christian men and women who faced incredible struggles and challenges. How do we explain their story? I don’t think we do. I think we have to stop trying to figure out WHY our story is happening and just do our best to embrace it. Part of trusting God is believing that He will redeem our story – whether in this lifetime or another.
3. Stop looking at other people’s story.
This is the most insidious temptation when living our story. We look at others and think, “if only…” This is the quickest way to deny our story and live a bitter, hurtful life.
Every single person faces their own challenges – it’s a human condition. The temptation is always available to look at other people and desire what they have. But, we must fight this desire.

Daily thankfulness is the only way to battle this hunger to look at other people’s story. When we are obsessing with other people’s stories, we should take some time to list the things that we are thankful for in our own lives. Maybe we aren’t exactly where we would desire to be; but, again, we can live in a place of bitterness or we can choose to embrace our story and look at the blessings that we have.
4. Add the next chapter to your story.
Embracing our story means that we know the last chapter has not been written. Although we may not be able to control circumstances, we can always choose our attitude and envision a compelling future.

If you are a Christian, the Bible says that if we take our struggles and challenges to the very end (even death), we still have a hope. Our life is not about what happens during this lifetime. We will have an eternity to look into the face of God.

It hurts me to think that people exist in this world who do not have the hope of Jesus Christ. I don’t believe that I could truly embrace my story without this knowledge. Please remember that whatever our current story, we do have a hope and a future in Christ.

Embrace your story today. Even when it hurts, even when it makes you angry, even when it makes no sense – embrace your story.

I would like to point you to a new blogging friend who inspires me to live my story. His name is Ryan Haack. You can read a blog that he wrote about this idea here.

Life is difficult…but it is good. Embrace your story today...because it is yours.

QUESTION: How do you embrace your life story? Please post comments below. NOTE: I have begun using DISQUS for comments. If you do not have a DISQUS account, please sign up for one. If you have a blog that you would like to link, sign up for your DISQUS account here. If you only want to make comments, sign up here. NOTE: You do NOT have to create a DISQUS account to leave comments.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


“As anyone who’s ever been mugged by their grandparents will tell you,
the element of surprise can make all the difference.”
~Bryan Allain

If you read the guest post that I wrote for my friend Jon Stolpe over on his blog last month, then you know that I believe everyone should have a blog. Writing a blog teaches discipline, helps sift your beliefs, and produces a written legacy of your thoughts. 

Last week, I received an advance copy of Bryan Allain’s ( awesome ebook, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo. Besides being funny and an easy read, the book is full of great advice for bloggers – whether you are beginning a blog or you are a veteran blogger. 

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is a book that can be read in a couple of days, but will have you thinking about every aspect of your blog. The book is broken into three sections: 1) The 3 Core Elements; 2) The Reign of King Content; and 3) Finding Visitors, Keeping Readers. These sections take you from conception and vision of your blog to the specifics of creating content and handling comments. 

Some gems from the book: 
  • Day 5: The three core elements [of your blog] are Audience, Perspective, and Content. 
  • Day 8: Try picking one person as your audience and write just for them. 
  • Day 10: The more you can narrow and define the scope of your blog, the better chance you have of hooking new readers (the right readers) on the concept. 
  • Day 12: So here’s a trick I’ve learned to generate content ideas and blogging inspiration that works almost every time: Go spend time in your archives. 
  • Day 14: We’ve got less than a minute to hook a new visitor on our site. 
  • Day 16: I have never, in all my 10 years of blogging, had a reader complain to me that a blog post was too short. 
  • Day 20: I call them Cheater Posts because they are so easy to write, but honestly there’s nothing ethically wrong with them…Here are 5 examples of cheater posts I use or have seen used by others. 
  • Day 24: As a general rule, I think the fewer comments you get on your blog, the more you should be interacting with your commenters. 
  • Day 25: Take this one action every day to watch the number of new visitors to your site rise a little more each day. 
31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is available through Amazon in Kindle format, as a PDF download, and will be available in the Nook store very soon. The cost is only $4.99. I guarantee you will love this book. 
In fact, go to Bryan’s blog and read more about him and his book. 

QUESTION: Do you have a book recommendation?