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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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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On Losing Consciousness In Public

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.

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Commitment Is A Ball

Our world today is flooded with so many options in so many areas of life, from relationships to work to how to spend weekends. In a climate like this, long-term commitments can feel like little more than limitations on our freedom to choose. Then again, what good are a thousand options if we never choose one? That’s what this poem is about:

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Knowledge Is Not A Bank

Now that my children are getting older, it has come to my attention that I have lost access to some of my own knowledge. I learned algebra in school, for example, but now that my son has taken it, I find that the lessons I had all those years ago seem to have slipped through a crack into some inaccessibly cloudy region of my skull. I know I knew it, but I can’t deny that I don’t know it now. And the same is true for much more than my maths.

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Writing Proverbs

I’ve always enjoyed the book of Proverbs in the Bible. The short, memorable sayings hit hard, like espresso shots of truth. You might say that the book is a bit like Twitter, but without the hot-takes, the cut-downs, and the crazy weird stuff and arguments… so not like Twitter at all, actually.

The whole point of the book of Proverbs is to gather wisdom and knowledge about life and living, and to pass it on to the next generation. Which got me thinking: if Solomon can write proverbs to pass on what he learned about life to help his children, why can’t I? I have lived for a little while now, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Why shouldn’t I try to capture some of those things in proverbs—short, memorable sayings that might help my children, or someone else?

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