There’s a lot of helpful how-to content online, and I’m often thankful for it. If I want to fix a broken appliance or learn a new skill, there’s bound to be a video tutorial posted somewhere that I can follow. In some ways it’s sad that our first place to seek advice is now Google instead of a real life social network of family, friends, and neighbours. However, my friends and family have almost certainly never replaced a ball-bearing unit on a Hotpoint X350KW. So I am thankful for strangers who make online tutorials.
They certainly make a lot of them. You can get how-to content on pretty much anything these days. One popular genre, which I’m sure you’ve seen, is successful influencers and millionaires posting about how they made their money or gained their audience, and how you and I could do the same if we would just follow their five-step fail-proof system. First, they talk about how they started with so little (showing their common, ordinary origins), and then they describe their ascent to greatness before coming back around to their humble beginnings and finishing with an encouraging comment like, “If I can do it, anyone can!”
Continue reading If I Can Do It, Anyone Can
I have a simple poem for you today, inspired by the beginnings of Spring that I’m starting to see around me:
Everything You Touch
Continue reading Everything You Touch
And stretched out space
Shaped Earth and placed
A garden on
This small oasis
Bursting full of life
“She’s so generous,” he said.
If he said it to you, what would your first thought be about the person he described? Would it have anything to do with how she uses her money? Probably it would. Money is the context we almost always use the word “generous” for. And that’s not bad—we need far more financial generosity in the world. But let’s not forget that the word (and the reality it stands for) applies to far more than our finances.
Continue reading Generous Patience
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.
Continue reading Dream Small Audiobook Is Now Available
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:
Continue reading Quotes I Can’t Forget
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):
Continue reading Heroes and Villains
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.
Continue reading How To Never Burn Out
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?
Continue reading Seeds And Sunflowers
This week I’d like to share two poems with you. They don’t have much in common except that they are short. I wrote the first one thinking about how powerful other people’s stories have been in my own life:
Continue reading Once Upon A Time
There was a period of years in my life when I randomly lost consciousness. The first time it happened I had just had an eye test, and I woke up on the floor with my head spinning and several blurry women in matching purple uniforms leaning over me. That was strange. Then there was the time my face went straight into my lunch, and the time I just fell over standing in the doorway of the kitchen. There was also the time I gave blood, and once again woke up with the staff leaning over me. Last, but certainly not least, there was the time my wife and I went to a traditional Irish music show. At the end of the evening they called people up from the audience to sing, and they called us, and we tried to say no but somehow we ended up on the stage anyway. We sang, and I was just starting to think we were pulling it off pretty well when I felt the blood leaving my brain. I knew that feeling like an old enemy by then, so I bent over double to encourage that blood to go back where it should have been while still trying to sing and act natural about the whole thing. I do not recommend this as a way to act natural. Thankfully, my wife caught me when I went down. When I woke up I saw sympathetic eyes glancing away from me. I guess most people don’t have a category for how to react to the guy who just collapsed publicly on stage in front of them. Fair enough.
Continue reading On Losing Consciousness In Public