2017: An Exercise in #Optimism

So no one reads my blog so you haven’t noticed this:  I haven’t posted in a while.  I keep thinking “I should write more” and then I don’t write.

I’ve done a bit of a reboot this year after we had a productive family strategy meeting on based January 2nd.  And it’s been going much better, but not as well as I’d like.  I did, though, set some specific goals around writing this year.  Sixty blog posts, in fact, including at least two in January.

And this is my first.

Here’s the rest of my goals so I can feel more pressure of accountability:

  • Run a 5k (repeat of a failed goal last year)
  • Be below 210 pounds or 35″ waist by the end of the year (I weighed in at a nearly obese 241# on January 1st)
  • Walk 2,000,000 steps (that’s 2 million)
  • Do 2 full body-weight chin-ups (I haven’t done one since the 80s)
  • Make 2,500 foul shots with each hand (5,000 total)
  • Finish renovating our old house so it can be rented or sold
  • Renovate 1 bathroom in our current house
  • learn basic Italian (before April 11)
  • Write 60 blog posts
  • Record 6 public speaking videos
  • Record 6 videos on other topics
  • Unplug on my next vacation for 12 consecutive days (no work email, etc.)
  • By end of March work 2 evenings or less (get the work done at the office!)
  • Visit Six Flags with the older kids at least 7 times (we have season passes!)
  • Read through the entire Bible
  • Improved consistency at Family Worship (by EOY averaging at least 5x/week)
  • Read 10 books (including no more than 4 I’ve already started reading)
  • Have 3 social events in our home with multiple families
  • Have 8 families over for dinner
  • Visit two previously unvisited MLB parks for a game

Based on recent years some of those easier looking ones are a big stretch.  I lose consistency at reading quickly (easily distracted with other things).  We’ve had health issues with the planners and cooks that make having social events harder from time to time.

I’ve already made some good progress and set intermediary goals for each month so that I can know whether I’m on track.  I may fail, but this year I’m failing forward.  Check back for results and more interesting posts than this one.

I’m Batman!

This Too? This Too.

My wife has been having some health struggles lately. Serious struggles.

This is on top of a life that’s above average on the crazy difficult scale of late.  Work has been harder than it’s ever been, and I’m not wearing the stress very well (at least until my recent vacation).  And even when I was in school, I was able to make it through because Theresa kept things running at home when I wasn’t able to find the attention span.

And when life is at a pace where I’m tempted to give up and say “I can’t take it anymore” God has added this to the pile too.  When I’m saying “no more” God says “actually, this too.”

1Thessalonians 5:18:

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

If you look up the word “all” in your concordance the Greek word there mean (wait for it) “all.”  Give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God’s will for your life.  This one too?  Yup.  Give thanks for everything.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard or that you can handle it.  There’s another all to remember in 1Peter 5:

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Cast all your cares on Him.  There’s not a single one you should try to carry on your own.

If you’re anything like me you forget that.  Pretty much every day.  I try to handle it on my own.  And God’s the One who handles it.  And you’re thinking, again if you’re like me, do I cast this anxiety or care onto Jesus too?  And what does He answer?  Yes…this too.

His burden is light, and yours is hard.  And He wants to trade.

And this is why you can give thanks in all things:  because every hard thing He sends your way is a reminder that He’s got this and that He wants to take it off your back.  So let Him.  Walk in His grace, giving thanks for the hardest of the hard, and He’s got this.  This too.


A Chord or a Nerve

I finished a post last week that I started months ago on anger, sanctification, grace, and consequences:

Sanctification, by God’s grace, has led to improvements.  Huge improvements by comparison, but God’s still not done rooting out this particular sin.

Source: Consequences (Change takes time) | #Optimism and Irony

..and this post for whatever reason has already almost twice as many views as any other post in the history of my blog.  I set a new PR for visitors in a day (nothing by a lot of bloggers’ standards and the post keeps getting more hits than anything new.

It was also a deeply personal post (which there have been more than a few of on this blog) but it apparently hit people in a way that they shared and clicked through in droves that I’ve not seen before.

I’m honored (assuming that’s what went on here) that God has used His rooting out of my sin to help others and humbled by it.  I’m also continuing to re-think what I’m best suited to speaking and writing about, and this is new food for thought.  I don’t get caught up much in my “stats” but I do want my writing to be read by others, and when it is I always wonder why.

To my regular readers who are reading even the “less popular” posts:  thank you for sticking with me as I write.  Feel free to give feedback here and on FB or Twitter, constructive and positive, that will help me grow as a writer.  To those who are only reading here and there:  thank you for giving me something to think about.

I don’t know if I struck a nerve or a chord, but I’m glad to see my writing doing something.  Even if it’s just gathering virtual dust most of the time.

Spring and Life

Spring is here. This past Sunday I sat out on my back patio and, despite the wind, enjoyed the sun and the view and did some reading and writing. It was wonderful.  Sure it was breezy enough that some of my tools were moving around on the back table, but it’s nice to have one of these Spring days where sitting outside is comfortable and enjoyable.The trees (as you can see in the picture below) are still pretty bare.  Soon, though, there will be buds and then leaves and the ravine behind the house will explode with color…mostly green of course. After dying in the fall and lying dormant all winter the first will be full of life.**

The seasons we have cycle through, year after year, reminding us of life and death. And Spring is that bursting forth of life from the dead, much like the resurrection we look forward to someday.  Continue reading

A Year

One year ago yesterday I graduated from college. I got all As this time around and it was a 16 month(ish) EMBA program and timehop yesterday reminded me of the event. More accurately I opened up the Timehop app so that I could see what I’d posted that day. My parents came out for it and we had a great time celebrating finally, at age 45, getting a college degree.

I had big plans for the year that we’re completing. A few of them got done, but mostly I’ve been figuring out what comes next more slowly than I’d like. I had ambitious dreams of what I could do when I wasn’t going to school, and came up horribly short on them.

It has been a good year. I’ve gotten two nice getaways with my wife: one to San Francisco and another recently to Mexico. Our kids threw us a surprise party for our 20th anniversary. I’ve started working with a team of leaders at work on bringing their skills to another level. I’ve implemented almost 25% of the ideas I thought I’d get done, which seems awful, but I probably was overambitious.

It’s been a hard year, too. Our old house is still not ready to rent. That weighs on me, but we’re not financially destitute, so we muddle through. We’ve had some rough health issues at home. Some projects have languished and needed more attention that I’m just getting around to giving them now.

As I look back there is so much to be thankful for, and I have been abundantly blessed. I have a wife who stands with me through thick and thin. I’ve realized that rest and relaxation are crucial to being on top of my game, and the phrase “post-vacation dad” has become a regular part of the family liturgy.

This past Friday we had our organization’s annual Christmas party. Most of the evening I spent in shock as I realized how much we’ve grown and how different things are than they were at my first party in 1999. And they’ll be different in huge ways again next year, too. One constant remains: God takes care of us and watches over us and always does what is best for us. And I should neither forget that nor ever cease to be grateful for it.

Broken #optimism

So last Monday I finally changed the name of the blog now that I’m moving on from school.  #Optimism and Irony.

Tuesday I proceeded to break the #optimism mug. One day later.

I told my wife about it and she laughed and told me the blog title was now finally true.  I’ve broken my optimism mug, which is truly ironic.

So this morning I’m conjuring optimism without my Christmas mug.  I’m drinking coffee out of a generic mug that was in the kitchen here at work and trying to remember that my God is bigger than the stuff on my plate that’s weighing me down.  And after today there will be a little less of it, assuming I can take care of a few items before the end of the day.

Time to do the next thing.