Archives For growth

I’m Giving Up Crazy for Lent

Chris —  March 20, 2014

Over the past six months or so, my life has been subsumed by “The Crazy.” It started with just being busy. Then it became crazy busy. Then it was just The Crazy.

The Crazy is that thing that wakes you up at 4 am because you’re afraid you forgot to send an email. The Crazy is feeling in your legs that makes you bounce out of bed because you’re afraid that you’re already late and things are going to fall apart. The Crazy is that sense that you had when you woke up that you never really slept.

The Crazy is what drives you to drink a third cup of iced coffee at five in the afternoon. The Crazy is the million worries yelling at you when you’re supposed to be having a conversation with the person in front of you.


The Crazy is blowing off bills because you don’t want to think about them. The Crazy is when you don’t return a friend’s call because having friends now stresses you out. The Crazy is the sense of dread and shame that keeps you from being able to sit and read scripture or pray.

If you come from a high church tradition, you could probably tell me a whole lot about Lent. I know there’s something about fasting and another rule about eating fish. I’m a low church, free church Protestant who happens to think the Liturgical Calendar might be a good idea.

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With the New Year here, many are setting out to change their lives. As ubiquitous as New Years resolutions are, they almost universally fail.

There are at least three approaches to New Year’s Resolutions. Some better than others depending on what you hope to accomplish.

The Goal

Most people confuse a goal with an intention. For instance “I’d like to lose weight” is an intention. “I will loose 10 pounds by eating 2 healthy meals a day for the next 60 days” is a goal. Use the tried and true framework “SMART” to help you articulate a goal you can succeed at:







Unlike a goal, a habit is a change of lifestyle. Examples of habits include “exercise daily” and “never check email before 9am.” The best way to learn a new habit it to subvert an existing one.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg, talks about how he broke his mid-morning cookie habit. He realized that what he enjoyed was not the chewy chocolate chips, but the opportunity to move around and socialize. He replaced his cookie break with a short time to walk around the office and socialize. The cookie was hardly missed, and he even lost a little weight.


We all have abilities we’d like to attain, like speaking a foreign language, learning to paint or write code. While mastering a skill may take 10,000 hours, basic competence can be achieved in only 20 hours.

According to Josh Kaufman,

[Rapid skill acquisition is] a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.

The amount of time it will take you to acquire a new skill is mostly a matter of how much concentrated time you’re willing to invest in deliberate practice and smart experimentation and how good you need to become to perform at the level you desire.

Kaufman’s 10 Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition are:

  1. Choose a lovable project.
  2. Focus energy on one skill at a time.
  3. Define your target performance level.
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills.
  5. Obtain critical tools.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice.
  7. Make dedicated time for practice.
  8. Create fast feedback loops.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed.

How do you want to change in 2014?

Seeking His Face is a daily prayer book, designed to use the scripture to teach us to pray.

seeking small

The life of prayer doesn’t start from scratch. The wish upwards is evidence of a readiness to pray. But how do we get from wish to prayer? How do we get the elusive, wispy, insubstantial wish embodied into actual prayer?

…the simple truth is we’ve oriented our lives around other practices. We’ve already created a form for our lives and have conformed our living to work deadlines, the pace of parenting, school schedules, media rhythms, and soccer practices. These can be good, and yet the pattern of this world can sabotage a life of prayer—and to live without prayer is to be deformed, no longer conformed to Christ.

But all is not lost. We’ve at least shown the capacity to form some habits, to practice regular routines. The beginnings of a healthy life of prayer are sometimes found in understanding the habit or practice-nature of much of the Christian life.

….Each day of prayer contains a number of different elements— an invitation into God’s presence, times of quiet, Scripture, free prayer, a set prayer, and a closing blessing. All of this is meant to be experienced as prayer. We may not be used to this way of praying, but think of it as an extended conversation with God—God invites you to be with him; you quietly enjoy his presence, listen to his Word, and respond to him with the reality of your life; and God sends you with his blessing. (From the Introduction)

Download the entire Advent section of the book here.

How to save $500 with Mr. Bento

Chris —  November 20, 2013

How much do you spend every day on lunch? Every week? Let’s say you go out three weekdays for a fairly affordable lunch, around $8. One of those is with a friend or co-worker. The other two are because you didn’t pack anything or you couldn’t stomach other cold sandwich.

Let’s also say that you could make a nice dish to take with you, for about $3 a day. If you packed a lunch, just two days a week, 50 weeks a year you would save $500.

What would you do with $500?


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In Austin, Fall is as subtle as flipping a switch. One day you hate you’re life and wonder why you live in an oven. The next, you want to put on a scarf and walk around Town Lake.

Fall also brings a twinge of guilt. With the end of the year approaching, I can’t help but think about how my New Years Goals have panned out.

Back in January, I publically stated four goals:

  • Become a Morning Person
  • Create a Regular Devotional Pattern
  • Write 200 Words a Day
  • Read 40 Books.

Fast forward ten months. I’m still not a morning person, although I’ve had some great mornings. I have done a lot of writing. I’ve had some great devotional times. I’m around 30 books right now, so it is still possible.


Why have I not succeeded at my New Years Goals?

1. I didn’t have the structures needed to pull them off. Continue Reading…