Two Powerful Skills You Already Have

Walking and eating are two of the most fundamentally basic human skills—the kind of things we learn in infancy. But I have found that walking and eating are also two of the most powerful contexts for experiencing human connection. What do we suggest when we want to see someone? More often than not, it involves eating at some point. Or walking. Or both.

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The Serious Business Of Laughing At Myself

“We need to talk,” she said, and as thick as my teenage skull was, I knew that phrase meant trouble. On the way home from work I stopped at her house so that she could break up with me. When she was done, I scraped together what little dignity I had left, held my head up, and walked away (controlling the urge to run). As my car came into view I began to realise that my hopes for a quick getaway were not going to materialise. While my girlfriend had been breaking my heart, my car had been simultaneously experiencing a similar, if more literal, fate. My now-ex-girlfriend’s mother had reversed into it, and now the driver’s side door resembled my insides. It wouldn’t open. And the car was parked beside a wall, so the door on the other side couldn’t open either. I ended up having to squeeze my broken spirit ignominiously through an open window. So much for a dignified exit.

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Love Is A Skill

Love is a big deal. People talk about it all the time—usually romantic love these days, but the broader concept of love for others in general gets plenty of airtime as well. We seem to agree that love is fundamental to what it means to live well as a human. It’s part of who we are, built in to the human heart. Which is exactly right: love is the image of God shining out, crying out to the world around us that the something or someone we love is worthy of valuing and treasuring. In that sense, love is natural. It is one of the deepest realities of who we are, of who God made us to be.

Then again, anyone who has tried very hard to love other people well will know that love doesn’t always feel very natural. A lot of times it feels more like hard work. “Love your neighbour as yourself” sounds straightforward—until your neighbour hurts you. Ignores you. Uses you for their own purposes. Belittles. Betrays. And I’m supposed to love them?? I’d rather do unto them as they did unto me. They don’t deserve my love.

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Dream Small Audiobook Is Now Available

I’m happy to announce that the audiobook version of Dream Small is now available, read by yours truly. It’s only three and a half hours long, less than 25 minutes a chapter. Put me in your ears—I’d like to talk with you about what really matters in life.

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Quotes I Can’t Forget

Words are powerful. They can communicate ideas, and ideas can change everything. Every once in a while someone captures a profound idea so well with their words that it hits my brain hard enough to stick and it won’t let go so it ends up becoming part of me. This week I want to share with you a few quotes that have become part of me. The hard part was picking just a few, so you’re likely to see this kind of post again in the future. Here they are:

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Heroes and Villains

One of my favourite things about a good story is the character development. I love it when I can watch someone in the story growing and changing and learning as the circumstances they face force them to make decisions and live with the consequences of their mistakes or taste the rewards of their sacrifices. Some of my favourite characters in literature are far from perfect, but they reflect our common humanity and they teach me something about how our personal character—for good or for evil—is forged slowly in the furnace of decisions. Even our small, daily choices will be motivated and directed either towards a love for self above all, or a love for God that expresses itself in love for others. Over time, these choices shape us. These choices make us. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote this triple poem (is a triple poem even a thing? Anyway, it is now):

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How An Attempted Car Theft Taught Me To Love Where I Live Even More

Last Friday evening, I finally got around to cleaning and washing the car, and refilling the windscreen wash. I can’t remember the last time I did any of that, which might tell you something about what it looked like before. The next morning, telling jokes along the way, my children and I walked out to the car to drive to basketball. When we got there I noticed that the driver’s side door frame was bent several inches away from the car. When I opened the door, I understood why: the steering column had been torn apart and the ignition wires were dangling loose.

Someone had tried to steal our car.

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How To Never Burn Out

Have you noticed that people aren’t quite the same after the pandemic? Apparently, humans beings can’t just pause most of their normal life activities for two years and then suddenly switch it all back on again without any difficulties. There are difficulties. People are generally more tired doing the same things, which makes them less willing to commit to the same number of things, which leaves some things undone, or at least struggling to get done. This seems to be especially true for voluntary activities like the local committees and clubs and churches that hold communities together and serve the needy and vulnerable. Serving others in these ways takes time and energy; resources that are already being demanded by commitments we can’t get out of, so often the easiest option is to cut the voluntary activities out. It makes sense. We only have so much to give. If we’re not careful, we’ll burn out. But I know a way to keep that from happening.

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Seeds And Sunflowers

Growing up in Alabama, I loved snacking on sunflower seeds. I would crack the shells open and pull out a tiny little bit of deliciousness from each one. It’s hard to stop, once you start on them—especially if they’re salted. It’s also hard to imagine how those tiny tasty little seeds could ever become the massive plants that grow higher than my head and make flowers bigger than my face. When you think of it it’s kind of shocking, isn’t it?

Imagine showing someone who had never seen a sunflower that tiny seed in its tiny shell and trying to describe to them what would happen if they planted it in the ground. Imagine being the person that had never seen a sunflower, and trying to get your head around the idea that the little grey nothing in your hand could transform so completely into something so impressive and colourful. If all you knew was the seed, how could you ever guess the flower?

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Writing Roundup

Dream Small was released four weeks ago, and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has gotten the book and interacted with it. For this week’s blog post, I’d like to share with you some links that relate to the book–some from myself, and some from others. First, a couple of articles I’ve written recently for other sites on themes relating to the book:

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