Archives For Life

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.

Continue Reading…

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?

Today I Am 30.

Chris —  April 3, 2012

Today is my 30th birthday. I woke up late rushed to work. Did my job. I marked the day with lots of hugs from co-workers, happy hour with my church community, and phone calls to family. It was a good day.

At my most cynical, I find myself angry and confused. When I was younger, I followed the path reccommended by family and the churches I grew up in. But I felt burned by that path, and with not a little thrill-seeking and self-righteousness, attempted to carve out another one. I threw myself into ministry and missions and tried to live out my faith. At my most cynical, I look at these seasons and angrily wonder what I have to show for it.

At my most idealistic, I have an abiding faith that I am exactly where God wants me. Through prayer and therapy and the patience of dear friends, I’ve worked through some baggage and found silver linings of many clouds. I have lived a life with a fair share of adventure and risk, and have the scars to prove it. These days, I live in a city I love, am learning from an awesome graduate program and serve with an amazingly incarnational church. At my most idealistic, I’ll grin, look you in the eye, and tell you I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My twenties have constantly vaccilated between these two extremes, often in the same day. I have high hopes that in my 30s I’ll grow in my idealism, take more risks and come closer to the man God wants me to be. I have no plans to abandon my cynicism either. Instead I pray that God shapes it toward something less bitter, and more akin to wisdom and prophecy.

Simply put: 20s have been fun, but I banking on 30s only getting better.

All the writing textbooks say that you should write even when you don’t have anything to say.  Force yourself.  Write about how you don’t have anything to write about.  Use a prompt.  Tell a story.  Just write.

(This is just such a post.)

There’s some wisdom to that, and  it applies to more than just writing.  I think life is the same way.

I know a guy who is tired to living.  He’s not suicidal.  Just tired.  Tired of doing the same thing again and again with the same result.  Not sure what to do different.

A friend of mine has reached his job’s ceiling.  He’s good at it, but isn’t making a living, and doesn’t know where to go or what to do differently.

Another friend has realized that he is in a cycle of bad relationships.  He likes the girls that are bad for him.  At his most cynical, he thinks it is his fault, and these are the only kinds of girls he has a chance with.

Perhaps this advice about writing is just advice about life.  When you don’t know what to do, you should just do something.  Find a prompt, something to get you moving.

Tired of life?  Don’t get caught up in the Meta, and just get through today.  It won’t always be this way.

Hit your ceiling?  Keep working really hard.  Jesus said that to he gives more to those who have been faithful with a little.

Can’t find the perfect relationship?  Try something different.  Not solely for romance, but for the chance to learn about yourself and make a new friend.

Life is a blank paper.  You are a genius with writer’s block.

Just write.

I Am 29 Years Old?

Chris —  April 3, 2011

While contemplating the move to Austin 5 years ago I took a composition notebook and a Bible into the woods and wrote a five year plan.  It talked about who I would become.  The things I would accomplish.  They were big dreams of starting grand ventures and writing and a family.

It was a good plan.

A less cynical person might describe the past five years as “learning experiences.” More than anything, it feels like a series of false starts. My life doesn’t look much like the man in the composition notebook.

I am 29 years old today.  It’s not a milestone like next year will be.  It’s more of a reminder that next year is coming, and some of the hopes in that notebook remain unfulfilled.

Yet every day I become more determined to make this year count.  Granted there have been some scrapes, but too much time has been spent licking wounds.  I’d like to claim that by this time next year things will be different.  But that has the familiar ring of the disappointed composition notebook.

Instead, this year must be about charting a new course, while being faithful to serve wholeheartedly where I am at.