I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember I was sitting around a table with a group of guys I do life with. It was freezing in the poorly heated garage on a frigid Ohio winter night when Jason told me and three other guys that he was likely going to be moving to Florida to be a part of a church plant with his father-in-law. We talked for a while about how he felt called to do this, especially after the season of unrest he’s been in, and how it just made sense for him. I can clearly remember looking around the table at the time and wondering; “who of these people may potentially follow him?” I can remember even more clearly thinking to myself; “been there, done that… no interest in uprooting and leaving town again.” I decided right there, on the spot, that I wasn’t even going to bring it up with my wife because I honestly believed the chances of us leaving Toledo again were nil.
Nearly a month passed, and during this time nobody approached me to be a part of this church plant. All the people going were too classy for that, they knew they couldn’t poach people, but I found myself still slightly drawn to what I believed at the time to be an impossibility. On an eerily warm winter day, Ryanne and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful warm weather and take Becca to the park. As we chased our daughter through the playground, it came up in a casual conversation that in a couple years, she wouldn’t be able to hang out with her friend Maci (Jason’s daughter) anymore. Ryanne of course asked why, so I was then forced to tell her about the Florida plans. I remember that I could actually see Ryanne’s brain working. After a few minutes, she simply said, “Why don’t we move too?” After picking my jaw up off the mulched park ground, I asked if she was serious. That led us into about a twenty minute conversation where we decided that we’d definitely keep thinking and praying about it.
One of my many faults is lack of patience. So I took it upon myself that same day to text Jason and see what he thought about Ryanne and I being a part of the church plant as well. We understood the risks, knowing that we wouldn’t have a job with the church. We’d have to quit our very comfortable jobs we have now, move halfway across the country, find new jobs, a new place to live, and still have time to devote into helping to plant this new church. It was absolutely insane. But, I wanted to tell Jason and get his thoughts, and he seemed very eager to have us join in the fun. It wasn’t but a few days later I was sitting in a hole in the wall diner, hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee, chatting with Mark (the soon to be lead pastor of this new church) about vision, what I could do to be a part of it, dreams, goals, and all the like. Ryanne I decided that day that we were in.
We wanted to be a part of this.
God doesn’t want me to be comfortable. I realized that while it wasn’t blindingly apparent, I’ve had an unrest on my heart for a while as well. So did Ryanne. I believe He has placed this unrest on our hearts to get us to step out of our “cushy” job and go help create something from nothing with eternal consequences. There is no shortage of people saying Ryanne and I are crazy. I wish I could argue with them. We are nuts. But to not go, well, I honestly believe we would end up in the belly of a whale right along with whatever Jonah left behind.
People have asked me “why?” It’s fairly simple really. I personally have three main reasons for wanting to jump off this cliff:
Eternity Building. We want to be involved with building something from nothing that will have eternal consequences. I want to roll up our sleeves, get uncomfortable, and do something crazy.
Community. For me especially, while Jason and I aren’t necessarily “best friends” he is definitely the closest friend I have, and I’m very close with the rest of the team that is interested in going. But even past that, is Ryanne and I just really love the idea of Becca growing up in that type of environment.
Mark and the rest of the team. Mark has been a huge catalyst for Ryanne and I both ever since I first set foot in CedarCreek. Ryanne and I both wanted to be a part of the West Toledo Campus (where Mark is currently the lead pastor) launch to begin with, but it never worked out because of what I was doing already at CedarCreek. Now, we have an opportunity to step out on faith, and help start this thing. We’re super excited about the people who’ve already committed to going, and are looking forward to being in the trenches with this amazing group.
A move like this doesn’t come without collateral damage. I am deeply saddened to be leaving family, career(s) and friends already established here in Ohio. I could go on for a while about all the things I’ll miss. But like I said before, I can’t imagine NOT going now. I have the utmost faith in God and this unrest he’s placed on me and my families hearts for this move. I can’t explain how or why I know, but I am absolutely at peace about this… I know it will work out.
I am beyond appreciative of the support I have been given from CedarCreek in pursuit of this plant. There’s no pressure to move out of my office or anything like that. A transition is expected, and so far the support in not exactly knowing a specific end date has been very good. As I understand it, the expected launch date of the new church is likely to be sometime between Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.
I don’t know what my role in the new church will be. Honestly, I don’t care. I’m not going to do anything for myself. I’m going to serve, and do whatever I can to help make a difference in people’s lives through that church. I respect that fact that God has placed leaders in my life, and I will do whatever I can to support them. As for work, I honestly don’t care much. I mean, I’m not going to be seeking out fast food jobs, but I certainly wouldn’t mind making a return to slinging coffee. I’m also hoping to set up a new branch of Love is Greater Photography in whatever community we move to. Between photography and my role in 5th Corner Media, I am sincerely hoping Ryanne and I are able to make ends meet. All I can do between now and then is continue setting up my business in such a way to keep it sustainable here in Ohio when I’m gone, and praying that God helps me to navigate the path needed to make that happen.
Ryanne and I would appreciate your prayers, thoughts, and good juju during this time. Even more so, I’d appreciate your prayers for the entire team committed to, or just considering this move. Ryanne and I are freaks, and we feel almost completely at peace about this whole thing, so if you only have a small amount of prayer time available, please pray for the rest of the team first =). I don’t believe it will always be as calm as it has been thus far for us, and I do think it’ll be a roller coaster of emotions for a lot over people over the next several months. I think the path to church planting is paved with potholes and ups and downs… I just pray that God will continue to guide me, Ryanne, and the rest of the team down the right path.
Jonah taught me a valuable lesson. One I don’t mean to repeat. So, Florida, here we come!
I want to share some numbers with you. I don’t share these to say LOOK AT US or anything weird like that… it’s merely a statement of how blessed I feel to work for a place that makes life change a priority. This is the text version (we’re working on a video) of The CedarCreek.tv 2012 Year in Review
Over 1,000 baptisms and 5,000 decisions for Christ.
Average as of late, 9,000 per week in attendance.
Successfully launched a new campus in South Toledo.
Collected 56,100 lbs. of food to support local area food pantries.
15,698 hot meals were served to local families in need along with free groceries given out to 2,457 families through Food for Thought and the CedarCreek Food Pantry.
14,376 lbs. of gently used clothing donated to local area ministries.
750 fully loaded backpacks donated to inner city children in Toledo/Honduras/El Salvador
Collected 3,000 lbs. of books for the Books for Buddies program.
Through our Car Care ministry, we gave away 20 cars to families in need, while also repairing 395 cars for single moms.
Gathered 1,983 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child to children throughout the world by Samaritans Purse
Gave 435 gifts for Toledo Area children
Distributed $67,444 to 211 families in financial need
$43,076 was given away through our 1 for 1 program to local organizations such as Cherry Street Mission, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and That Neighborhood Church, in addition to several other worthy organizations
Raised $23,269 for mission projects in Central America
Creekers supported 160 children in Central America with daycare programs, school supplies, clothing and nutrition needs.
Sent 133 people to Central America and Louisiana to show the love of Christ to those who are less fortunate than us.
Raised $25,000 towards a home-makeover for a family in need.
And, we’re expecting around 25,000 people to come through the doors this Christmas weekend. 5,000 of which will likely be first-time attenders. Freaking rad. It’s humbling, this honor I’ve been given to serve with such amazing people. And this is a time of year to be thankful for that gift.
I do hope you’ll check us out… Christmas is a great time to see what happens here!
I quit facebook back in early September. Originally the plan was to just take a month off, but about three weeks into it I realized that I didn’t really want to go back. I won’t go into all the reasoning (I already wrote that post) but I felt good about it.
A few weeks went by, and it was made apparent to me that my family was unhappy with me leaving facebook. The problem was, it was their primary method of keeping up with Becca (short of physically seeing her). That’s how they saw pics, read about what was going on, etc… I felt bad, came back to facebook for a day, realized I really didn’t want to come back, and left again… quietly this time.
Fast forward to today. I had to make a new, super secret facebook account. Why? Because I use Spotify. I use Spotify a lot. This is a problem for me, because not only do I use Spotify for personal music listening, but it’s also a HUGE part of my job. It’s the primary method for sharing playlists, collaborating with other people on planning future services, etc. Put simply, I have to have the sharing features of Spotify enabled. So, I have to have a facebook account. So I made a new one, made friends with the people I had to, to keep Spotify working, and thought that would be it.
Well, now people are finding me. And friend requesting me. So I’m forced to ask myself, what the heck is the point of having a super secret facebook?!
Listen, I understand this sounds terribly flakey, but I’m going to reopen my old facebook account, and just hope that I’ve learned enough in my time off to not let it get the best of me again. It’s just not worth it to go through all the hassle of a super-(not so)-secret-facebook, not have a good method for sharing pics of Becca with family, and whatever else is been causing problems for people that I don’t know about.
So, whatevs. I’m back on facebook, but hopefully in nowhere near the same capacity I once was. Lessons have been learned.
Peace is a fallacy. More accurately, the nuanced emotional disposition that there will be a state of continual rest is a fallacy. Peace my not be synonymous with continual rest. Nevertheless, the glass is neither half full nor half empty; it is full of poison. (A good man told me that years…
My 1999 Mitsubishi Galant drank it’s very last drop of gasoline today. It was a valiant effort from a vehicle that was honestly probably at least a year past it’s due date. Yes, I am a believer in the fact that most foreign cars will run forever, but this wasn’t one of the “most.” This car has been a problem for a while now, but we just kept hoping and praying it would last a little longer. Today marked the end.
So, now it’s time to car shop. Fun, right? Generally speaking I’d say yes. I like the process of going to lots and taking cars out for a drive, it’s fun for me. This time is different though. I came to the realization today that I have to get it out of my head that I’m not the same guy I was ten years ago. For some reason, I have a hard time believing that I’m able to afford a new (used) car, and my credit score is good enough to warrant a pretty great interest rate as well. This opens up more doors than I am used to. This time, it’s “my” car too, which means Ryanne gets to give input of course, but ultimately she’s letting me make the decision since it will be primarily driven by me.
We test drove three vehicles tonight. A 2007 Saturn Vue that I was a bit surprised by (I had ZERO interest in an SUV when we started today). A 2008 Scion xB (with only 50,000 miles and it’s a Toyota Certified Used Vehicle, which in terms I understand basically means it’s refurbished), and a 2007 Chrysler 300 (with 71,000 miles). All three vehicles are pretty similar in price.
Now, those people who know me best, know that the Chrysler 300 is one of my dream cars. There’s something about it I just dig. To make it more interesting, the 300 was the last car we drove tonight, and the salesmen was kind enough to let me take it for an extended test drive (which means it’s currently parked in my driveway, and won’t be returned until sometime tomorrow).
But here’s the problem, while every single selfish part of my being wants to just buy the 300 outright, I realize that the xB is probably the more responsible choice. Let’s just kick the Vue out of the equation. The xB gets ten more miles per gallon, is a year newer, and has 20,000 less miles. Both vehicles are roomy enough for a daughter and/or transporting of a chronic butt-ton of video/photo gear, and neither are your every day normal looking vehicles. Both are colors I like (xB is silver, 300 is black…droooool). The xB is a Toyota at heart, which means I believe wholeheartedly in it’s reliability. The 300 is a Chrysler, which while in the past I would be hesitant about. However, my uncle has been a lifelong employee at Chrysler who is a realist, and he even said that “if you buy a 300, make sure it’s a 2006 or later, we figured out a lot that model year” So, check mark in the win column there. The 300 is quite a bit more comfortable to drive, but the xB is surprisingly cozy as well.
Since Becca has come along, my life has been in a constant state of re-evaluation. What used to work for me, doesn’t anymore. The way I used to spend my time, has to be adjusted. Ideas I thought were good, are crap. So on and so forth…
Eighteen months ago, Ryanne and I sat down across from each other at our dining room table and laid out a plan. We sat in the living room of our rental, 1100 square foot townhouse with no backyard and very little storage space and discussed a plan for getting out of debt faster so we can buy a house. It’s not so much that we feel like we need to own a house, as much as it is we want a yard for Becca to play in, and a little more room. The plan was fairly simple… I’d work my tail off for a few years to earn enough money to make our goals happen that much faster. My “brilliant” idea was that if I was going to miss any amount of Becca’s life because I worked so much, these early years are the “best” ones to miss because she won’t remember that her father was an absentee-dad.
Fast forward to the last two months or so. Everything had been going to plan. I was gone 5-6 nights a week, working twelve hour days between three to four jobs. Yeah, the money was nice, but I started to notice ever so slight shifts in how Becca reacted to me. (For the record, the shift in my relationship with my wife was nothing even remote to slight… we were definitely communicating less and less, and I have little doubt I was causing some resentment.) Becca stopped wanting to say bye, or goodnight, or give me hugs and kisses. She would SCREAM for her mommy whenever she’d be left alone with me for any amount of time. Yes, I know some of that is natural for a child her age, but this just didn’t feel right.
So for the last two months I’ve been wrestling with this. Did I make a mistake? Is missing ANY part of my child’s life worth it? For any reason?
Last Thursday, as I was taking photos at the STORY conference in Chicago, Erwin McManus gave a wonderful talk about creativity and what it means to find balance. Mr. McManus was already one of my favorite authors, his book Wide Awake was the catalyst for some of the biggest self-inflicted life changes I’ve ever made (quitting CedarCreek, moving to Albuquerque). I’m not saying they were the wisest choices, but the book gave me the courage to take some risks.
Erwin spoke a bit about his five year absence from ministry, but he never really said “_______ is why I walked away.” He didn’t seem to want to address it head on. After his talk, he had his son come up on stage and do a little q&a session with him. His son, now in his early twenties, started off by dropping this bomb in front of a room of a thousand people working in ministry: “Dad, I just want to say, and probably for the first time publicly, that I just want to thank you. I know you never said this or ever would admit it, but I know you quit ministry for me. For your family. Thank you.”
Crickets. Pin drop.
My world was just shaken to it’s core. What in the world have I been doing these last two years?
Now, to be fair… my issues are not from my ministry career. Yes, there are stresses and odd hours involved, but most of my time issues are self-inflicted from running a small business, doing real estate photos, and recently joining a little media company venture.
I’ve spent the last five days trying to figure out what to do with this world shaking revelation that I’ve been an idiot for two years. How on earth did I get my priorities jacked? Yes, having more money would be nice, but not at the expense of my relationship with my family. Nothing comes before that.
Step one was finally admitting to what I was already feeling, that it was time to scale back. Not just in a sense of working less either, I needed to address everything that wasn’t working in my life anymore. I quit facebook entirely, twitter as well. I’ve wrote down some new rules to better manage my time at home (things like offline hours, who I will and will not answer the phone for after a certain time, etc), and probably most important, setting up a max number of nights I’m allowing myself not to be home.
Step two, actually enforcing some new rules limiting how much I work, will be a bit more difficult and slow to enact. I can’t change this world overnight, but I can look to the future and start planning for what I believe is an acceptable amount of time away from family. This primarily has to do with my non-cedarcreek work.
Without getting into a bunch of unneeded hyperbole, time is a funny thing. I mean, I get the logistics of only having so much. It just seems that how I prioritize it is always changing. Right now, I’m positive that I’ve been doing it wrong for two years. I’m a hundred percent sure that I’ve chosen incorrectly, and will do everything in my power to make it right in the eyes of my wife and daughter.
On Sunday I spent the entire day with Ryanne and Becca. We went to an apple orchard where Becca picked her very first apples. She picked out a pumpkin we’ll be carving later. She rode a pony. Climbed a tree. Fed a goat. Jumped in a bounce house. Chased bubbles. Smiled and laughed.
It was beautiful.
I just don’t know how I ever put anything before times like that.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how much time I waste believing that anyone cares what I do all day long. I’ve been thinking about how when someone DOES actually care about what I do all day long, it’s almost like a weird ego-boosting drug. Problem is, it isn’t real. And, if we’re being honest, I’ve been thinking about how little I personally care about what anyone else does all day long.
I deactivated my facebook account today.
It’s been two weeks since I logged into facebook. It’s been the same length of time for twitter as well, but for whatever reason quitting twitter doesn’t seem like a big deal. Facebook is huge. A good friend and someone who has permission to beat me with a reality-tattooed baseball bat challenged me to go social media free for a month, and it only took eleven days for me to realize I didn’t want to go back.
Facebook was like a drug to me. It was almost becoming a replacement relationship. I could go through my day, not at all worried about people in face to face relationships thought of me, knowing the second I post a photo of my daughter, or some super sappy post about something, I’d get near-instant gratifying feedback that would make me feel better about myself. I’m not saying it’s unhealthy for everyone, but for me… it was causing me to detach. This is something I only realized after taking a step back.
After the initial shock, I slowly re-acclimated myself to a life that doesn’t include social media. Those first few days were very difficult. I found myself anxious, literally, because I had very little idea what as going on in anyone’s life. Not that it’s important for me to know what everyone had for breakfast, but I feel like I’ve been programmed for the last few years to want that admittedly useless information. There were some legitimate things I missed, my cousin had a baby that I had no idea about until my mother told me a few days later, saying “didn’t you see the post on facebook?” Statements like that have really become quite amazing to me.
I’m normally not one to pick up the phone and call someone just to talk about life, mainly because I’m just not that interesting, so I can no longer understand why I would do that on a platform such as facebook. I accept I’ll miss out on things, sometimes important things, but I’m hoping that when I need to know something, I’ll know it by other means. I also realize I need to do a better job communicating with my family in ways other than facebook.
For me, facebook was a distraction, an unrealistic ego boost, a time sink, a place of mass frustration (especially during political season), a soapbox, a place for altered perceptions, and ultimately a place I realized I didn’t want to be anymore.
I realized how unbroken life is without social media.
I know there are some that would argue that by taking myself out of facebook, I potentially lower my influence and reach. I guess I’m just not as concerned about those things anymore. I made my wife an admin on the LGP page so it can still be updated. Every other group I was a part of is taken care of in some way. The only thing I legitimately feel bad about is the two iGroups I was leading. I’m going to need to get some new leaders in there.
Ultimately, I feel like I just want to focus more on what is real. What is in front of me. I lead a very busy life, too busy. I recently came to the realization that I have nobody to blame for that other than myself, and I need to make some changes. I need to be home more. I need to be a better husband and father by being more present when I am home. And while quitting facebook isn’t a wholesale change that will add a lot of percentage points back in the win column, it is a small change. A small change that I’m hoping I can roll into some bigger changes in the near future.
So, some of the more skeptical out there could be reading this and asking: “…but tumblr is okay?” Here’s the deal: I not-so-recently decided I want to write a lot more. I mean… a LOT more. I’ve got a couple of things I’m tossing around right now that I’m struggling to move from concept to reality (eh? see the tie-in here… more time/focus?). But ultimately, I feel like a place to just write every so often isn’t a bad thing. I honestly could not possibly care less if anybody reads this. I’m certainly not expecting it as there’s no facebook for it to post too anymore.
Peace. That’s what I found after the shock of no facebook for a few days faded. Sobriety feels nice, peaceful, and for now it’s where I want to be.
I set a few goals for 2012. Here they are from my original post back in January:
Read 12 Books - This may not seem like a lot to most people, for me it is. I’ve simply accepted the fact that I am not a big reader unless something really grabs my attention. This year I intend to start changing htat.
Finish a Competition/Race - I don’t know what the official name for these things are called, but I have signed up for The Warrior Dash this year., and I intend to finish it. Additionally, I wouldn’t mind attempting a 5k at some point.
See a 2 at the beginning of the number on my scale, get my health under control, and don’t quit.
Complete at least ONE of the personal projects I’ve been sitting on for nearly two years.
Fitness related goal
So, how am I doing?
Read 12 Books(up to 15 already)
Finish a Competition/Race - I don’t know what the official name for these things are called, but I have signed up for The Warrior Dash this year., and I intend to finish it. Additionally, I wouldn’t mind attempting a 5k at some point.(Did a 5k AND the Warrior Dash)
See a 2 at the beginning of the number on my scale, get my health under control, and don’t quit. (Got a LONG way to go on this. This one might not happen realistically)
Complete at least ONE of the personal projects I’ve been sitting on for nearly two years. (HA! Not even a little close)
Fitness-related goal to be named later. (I decided this was going to be doing 50 pushups in a row around March. I’m up to about 15-20.)
Two out of five ain’t bad? I think I can realistically accomplish one more, and finish three out of five, but I just don’t see how I can get to 299 or less, or finish a personal project by the end of the year.
I’ve already started thinking about next years goals, and I’m sure whatever I don’t finish off this one will make a re-appearance, as well as some new fitness related goals. I’m finding these goals drive me, I just need to continue to make time for some of the loftier ones.
After following three of Aaron Sorkin’s shows with a cult-like obsession, something finally hit me this morning. The new show The Newsroom, The West Wing, and yes, even the short-lived Studio 60 are all at their core about leadership. Each show follows someone (or someones) with some level of leadership and tells the story of that responsibility, the stress and emotional warfare, and even the loneliness that comes with the position. I’ve been a Sorkin-junky for seven years now and it just now hit me. Unbelievable.
Sunday’s episode of The Newsroom was no different. There was a huge lesson in what it means to be a leadership that prompted me to want to write about it, which led to this whole revelation. Long story incredibly short: a staffer was put in charge of booking someone for the show, she screwed it up, her boss covered for her to his boss, and his boss covered for him to her boss. Basically, nobody threw anyone under the bus.
To me, there are few ways to make your team hate you and turn on you quicker than selling them out. As a leader, you are responsible for your team, so if your team fails, you fail. Unless there is some catastrophic failure, that’s where the buck should stop. It’s always been a pet-peeve of mine to see people sell out someone on their team, so this resonated with me deeply.
Near the end of the show, the person who screwed up fessed up to Will (the news anchor, everyone’s boss), but he didn’t care anymore. He was more impressed with his team’s cohesion. Later in the show, the same person who screwed up asked Jim, her immediate boss why he covered for her, and he flatly said: “I cover for my team, Mac (his boss) covers for me, and Will (the news anchor) covers everyone. That’s how this works.”
And that’s the way it should be.
(ps - I realized all of Sorkin’s shows were about leadership as I thought about this scene, and realized the exact same thing has been a recurring theme in all his shows. Same thing happened on Studio 60 about a staff writer accidentally ripping off someone else’s work, and even though it escapes me, I’m sure it happened in The West Wing as well. Some people might say that’s just Sorkin having trouble with new content, but I think he just really wants to get the point across that we all need to do a better job of taking responsibility and not passing the blame.)
Shooting my fourth wedding of the year yesterday, I realized I was four weddings late on getting my 2012 photography playlist set.
It may just be me (but I doubt it), but I feel like I need some serious jammie-jams before hitting up a wedding or a photography session. The right amount of confidence boosting hip hop (I’m the king of the world!!!) along with some fun (literally) let’s get this party started type music.
So, here it is.
Fellow photographers, what do you listen to before showing up ready to melt faces with your camera gear?
I’m not a reader. At least, I wasn’t. Well, I was… but then I wasn’t, and now I am again.
I did bad in high school because I read. Really. Instead of paying attention, I’d read books in class. Quite literally, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is at least 52% of why I was in constant trouble in high school. If that would have been a six book series (of 400 page books) instead of an eleventy-billion book series (of twelve-billion page books) I probably wouldn’t have gotten bored so quickly and graduated. After high school, I stopped reading.
But I digress.
Here I am in 2012 and I decided to make a modest goal of reading twelve books this year. Not because I think reading is the only way to enlightenment or anything like that, but simply because it’s a different area of creativity I wanted to foster for myself. I like to write. Reading should come with that, right? So my first step was to let myself off the hook. What hook? The Christian book hook. Since I started working at a Church, I’ve had this unnatural (and unnecessary, it seems) bent on only reading Christian leadership books. No fiction. No nothing. Honestly, this is probably why I stopped reading in the first place. I have a personal distaste for anything, Christian or otherwise, that lists the 5 reasons to fix whatever might be wrong in my life. I don’t see things that black and white, and to be able to sum up <insert your number here> ways to fix something generally says to me that the author is simply trying to sell books, and not really being authentic.
Yikes… I digress again…
Anyway, so I decided I’d read anything. I started the year in some fiction, but quickly found that it seems I prefer non-fiction, and usually biographies or memoirs of some sort. Interesting enough, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. I also wanted to be sure I didn’t just read things I would automatically agree with. That’s too easy. I wanted insight from all spectrum’s of life, not just what’s familiar to me and my worldview.
So here we are, it’s almost June of 2012. I had a goal of twelve books in 2012, a modest goal to be sure, but considering I read all of one book in 2011, I wanted it to be an attainable goal. Well I’m happy to report I have read eleven books and am almost done with number twelve. Well, technically I read ten books, and stopped reading one, but I still count it. So here’s what I’ve read, my 1-5 scale, and a quick thought on each one. I share this not to brag, but instead to say “hey, I wasn’t a big fan of reading either, here are some books that made me glad I chose to get back into it.”
Decision Points by George W. Bush (5/5) - This was a VERY interesting read. Great to read about what happened through the eyes of the guy it actually happened too, instead of all the talking heads.
Decoded by Jay-Z (4/5) - Ghost-written or not, the only reason this wasn’t rated 5/5 is that it was very obviously written by a hip-hop artist. Still, extremely interesting, and gave me a different perspective of rap.
Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper (5/5) - I’ve always been an Anderson Cooper fan. His “no BS” attitude on the news is very well explained in this book. I love his “can’t just report from behind a desk” mentality.
Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow (5/5) - This book has become my manual for hard work. Tebow’s dedication to self-improvement (physically, mentally AND spiritually) is inspiring.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (5/5) - This was one of the first books I read. After sharing with my friend Jason about my goal, he pretty much required me to read this. My book review in three words: leadership is lonely.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (4/5) - Another one of the first books I read, this time at the appeal of another friend, Christy. I liked it, although it was difficult to follow at times.
God in a Cup by Michaele Weissman (5/5) - Insightful look at the driving force behind the “third wave” of coffee. A must for any true coffee fan.
Jesus, My Father, And the CIA by Ian Morgon Cron(5/5) - The very first book I read in 2012, and also one of my favorites. I love memoirs of interesting people, and this was a great one.
Untitled by Blaine Hogan (5/5) - A rare exception from my “no self-help” rule. Although I wouldn’t call this that anyway, it definitely helped me re-evaluate how I approach my creative process.
The Dolce Diet by Mike Dolce (5/5) - Super quick read, but also super helpful. Mike has an insight into healthy eating and weight cutting that has been very influential in how I eat (or, would like to eat).
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2/5) - The ONLY book I stopped reading. I was about halfway done and it was just frustrating. I don’t doubt that people love this book, but for me I couldn’t get past how strangely written it was. I’m looking forward to watching the movie, however.
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle (5/5) - Still in progress, about 75% through, and I’ve loved every page. Amazing look into our military, the commitment, dedication, sacrifice and work put into the job. Loving it.
For the record, I’m not stopping once I finish my 12th book sometime today or tomorrow. I’ve got no less than ten more books sitting on my kindle waiting to be read, some that I’m really looking forward to as well. It’s helped that I’ve found my niché for sure (biographies). I’m really glad I made this a priority this year, that’s for certain.
Today. Today has been amazing. Days like this I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done to deserve this life. The answer is nothing. #Grace
Why such a good day?
I spent time with my wife and daughter. Including some much needed time pushing my daughter on a swing at the park.
I got to do some location scouting for a video shoot next week (for CedarCreek) at Mansfield Reformatory, the 122 year old now-abandoned prison where Shawshank Redemption was filmed. This was a part of my job.
I booked another wedding for LGP.
I received a glowing email from a guy I do real estate photography for.
Made some movement on a couple projects for 5th Corner Media (the media production company I am involved with).
Had a tremendous workout.
Spent some time and had dinner (sushi) with friends and fellow photographers who are way better at this than I ever will be, but they still let me hang out.
I’m currently living a ridiculous life. I never dreamed of any of this, but yet here I am getting to enjoy something so far beyond what I could have imagined. I did absolutely NOTHING to deserve it. Matter of fact, I’ve done everything to deserve nothing. By my actions alone, I deserve absolutely nothing. I am so incredibly grateful and humbled by the life in which God is entrusting me. That… that is why you see me talking so much about commitment, hard work, hustle, etc… because I’m at the point where I don’t want to waste what I’ve been given. This life, it’s the ultimate gift, and I don’t want to get in front of God one day and say “sorry, I really really wanted to sleep in,” or “but that cake looked so good!” Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to bring anyone down for the life they choose to live, this is just how I feel, personally, about my own life.
I see clearly now that every breath is a gift. I am a blessed man. The absolute least I can do is make the most of these gifts.