10 days before Christmas

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There are 10 days left before Christmas!

One of the many things I appreciate about Hilary, and something I’ve learned from, is her childlike wonder. It’s a HUGE part of what attracted me to her in the first place.

She’s really like a big kid. Which is a spiritual advantage over people like me who run the risk of taking ourselves too seriously.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14. He said stuff like that on multiple occasions. Jesus was clear—it’s good to be childlike. Not childish, but childlike. And the difference is simple.

Childish is stubborn and selfish. The stuff we deliberately train out of our kids (hopefully).

Childlike is trusting, dependent, joyful, simple, and expectant. The stuff we only accidentally train out of our kids.

Growing up is a spiritual disadvantage. Childlike is the good stuff.Here are three ways you can practice being more childlike today—choose one:

  1. Get down on the ground and play with kids today. Enter their world. Let whatever adult concerns you have wait until the kids are done playing. (Which might be awhile.)
  2. Give a gift to a stranger. The stranger part is important, but you’re giving a gift and getting nothing in return. Just the joy of sharing.
  3. Call a parent or sibling and reminisce. Tell them you’re thankful for all that they’ve meant to you. Don’t talk business and don’t bring up any baggage. Just smile and be in the moment.

(You gotta sing this to yourself.)
On the 10th day before Christmas, Caleb gave to me…
10 days to buy his new course! 

In “Life to the Whole”you’ll learn how to integrate your body, mind, heart, and soul. Our culture trains us to compartmentalize as we get age. Childlike is about de-compartmentalizing. Becoming more simple, in the best kind of way. 

Click here for the Life to the Whole course!
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11 Days before Christmas

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There are 11 days before Christmas!

I’m using these days to help prepare you not to miss the main things this Christmas season.

If you’re not sure what “the main things” are, I’m going to tell you.

Main Thing: Jesus arrived. He came. He showed up—God, in skin.

BTW: Technically, it was 2,000 years ago. But “a thousand years is like a day” to God, so it was more like two days ago. When you look at a nativity scene and the characters seem distant, remember, they’re not. It might as well have happened last weekend.

Main Thing 2: Jesus is still arriving. He’s still showing himself to people in unexpected ways everyday. Are you paying attention?

Main Thing 3: Jesus is still arriving via YOU. In you is the living Spirit of God, whether you realize it or not. Are you breathing? Spirit. Do you have a soul? Spirit-connector. It’s how you were made. So, guess what? When you show up somewhere, you bring a little bit of God with you. There’s no one else like you in all creation. You give us a glimpse of the God of the Universe that we wouldn’t otherwise see. We need you to be you and show up with your best this Christmas season. We’re still looking for glimpses of “the arrival.”

Click here for the Life to the Whole course!

Did you check out the deal for my online course, yesterday? Maybe you think that you’re already spending too much money on other people and can’t afford to buy something for yourself. But that’s where you’re wrong.

a) You are worth investing in, and this is way better than that jacket or those shoes. The “Life to the Whole” course will improve your life!

b) You can buy it as a gift for someone else. In fact, I’m offering a Buy-one-get-one for Christmas only. Buy access to the course for yourself, give another to someone else. And it’s a great, meaningful gift.

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12 days before Christmas

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There are officially 12 days before Christmas!

I know, I know… The song is “The 12 days of Christmas,” and, technically, it starts with Christmas Day and goes the next eleven. But that doesn’t make any sense. We look FORWARD to Christmas. And when it’s done, we’re looking to the New Year. My wife has the tree and lights down before lunch on the 26th.

So, we’re going use the 12 days theme to gear up for Christmas.

AND

… gear up for the release of my first ever online course: Life to the Whole. (It releases the day after Christmas. More on that later.) But for now, let’s talk about:

“Advent”

Advent means arrival. The God of the universe arrived.

It’s strange to think about, isn’t it? The God of everything… in whom we live and move and have our being… the breath of life itself… the One who spoke creation into existence… the same One who holds the whole world in his hands… That One. That God. He showed up on earth in the form of a human child. An infant… via the birth canal. (A.K.A.: The hard way.)

Thousands of years of prophecy and promises preceded His arrival, but it was still masked in mystery. No one expected this. Not this way—humble, simple, scandalous.

It was—and is still—absolutely shocking.

Click here for the Life to the Whole course!
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Couch to floor

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Do you have kids? Or are you around your friend’s kids, or volunteering where kids are? You should be. And there’s no better time than around Christmas. 

It’s like how I feel about funerals. I believe you and I need to attend a funeral at least a couple times a year. Funerals remind us: life is short, so make the most of the time you have. 

Similarly, kids remind us: life is a gift and can’t be taken too seriously. 

I have three kids (5, 3, 1). They are a handful, in the most glorious sense. When I come home in the late afternoon or evening I am often exhausted with a bunch of things on my mind. The best version of me pushes the stress from my mind and enters fully into my kid’s joy—“Daddy’s home!” The lesser version of me looks for how to get to the couch as soon as possible. 

Because I know myself, I’ve created guiding principles for myself:

If I’m on the couch and my kids are on the floor, I get on the floor. 

Couches are for lounging. Floors are for playing. 

Couches are for zoning out. Floors are tuning in. 

Couches are hands-off. Floors are all in. 

I know, you might have a back problem, or a hard floor, or a more stressful life than me. But make sure you’re not making excuses for being a boring adult who’s forgotten how to play. 

Learn from kids. To learn from kids, and to become more childlike, we need to be with kids. On the floor. 

Especially at Christmas. 

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Candy cane bouquets

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On May 1st my wife likes to hand out flowers to friends. She does this thing where she goes to a friend’s front door, rings the doorbell, leaves the flowers, and runs away. Like our kids, who are usually participating, she giggles and eliminates any chance of surprise or anonymity. But it’s a beautiful tradition. 

At Christmas, candy cane bouquets are a thing. 

What if you bought a candy cane bouquet and you walked around handing out candy canes—to children and adults alike? 

What if you bought several bouquets and had them sent to people you care about—just for fun? 

Simple gestures done in love—and especially with a childlike spirit—go a long way. They go a long way for them… and they go a long way for you, too. Helping you engage your heart in the season and the simple joys of being alive this Christmas season. 

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Journal

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Journaling consistently shows up on the “how to start your day” recommendations of gurus and grandmothers, alike. 

“The Lord gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance.” ” -Habakkuk 2:2

Writing it down does several important things:

  1. It helps you deepen your understanding. Moving from thinking to writing always furthers your comprehension of what you’re learning. (Teaching is the next step toward comprehension or mastery.)
  2. It gives you something to reflect back on. You can quickly recall the next day, week, or year where you were in this moment and what you were learning, or what you were planning. 
  3. It gives you something to pass on. The words on the page can serve as inspiration for others. Even if your journal is private, the thoughts, ideas, or actions steps can be converted into another sharable form. 

As you look to 2019, consider including journaling in your daily, or at least weekly, rhythm.

I keep a journal by my bed. I don’t journal everyday, but I like having it there when I’m preparing for a new day in the AM, or reflecting on the day in the PM. 

Evernote is also a useful note taking tool. I use it multiple times a day to capture thoughts, reflections, and new ideas. 

There’s no perfect system. Just YOUR system. If you have one, revisit it. If you don’t, start small. Even really small, literally, with post-its. Just start somewhere. 

Your future self is grateful you started. 

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All you need

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“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” -CS Lewis
Do you feel like you’re lacking? Like something is missing? I agree with CS Lewis—we were meant for another world… or for a new, restored experience of this one.
So there’s a groan and a longing in our soul. For more. For better. For fullness… wholeness… complete restoration.
And… this is also true:
“Jesus has the power of God, by which he has given us everything we need to live and to serve God.” -2 Peter 1:3
We have what we need in this life to do what God is inviting us to do.
It’s both.
Something is missing or unfinished and our soul knows it.
And,
We have what we need to do what we’re here to do. It’s both.
I hope that’s encouraging, instead of confusing or defeating. We can take hope—and find peace—knowing that the longing or restlessness of our soul is telling a much bigger story. Yet, for today, I have what I need to be who I’m meant to be. The challenge and opportunity is tapping into the Source of Life, and the Supplier of “everything we need” and walking it out…. today.
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Fasting

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I’m always thinking about ways to use one habit to integrate my body + mind + heart + soul. Fasting can be one of those habits.

Once a year, Hilary and I do a longer term fast—3 to 10 days. We’ve done water only, juice cleanses, Master Cleanse, and others. I’m not a Dr. and you might want to consult one before diving into a fast longer than three days.

But for this post, consider “intermittent fasting.” It’s a very popular fasting technique that lots of people are using in a variety of ways. Inc magazine recently suggested that the benefits can include: boosting the body’s ability to fight off inflammation; improving blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels; boosting brain function; and preventing neurodegenerative disorders.

You can think about this kind of fasting practically and spiritually.

Practically: Shoot for only eating food between an 8-hour window. So, say from 11a (first meal) to 7p (last meal). That means you’re fasting for sixteen hours.

Spiritually: Don’t just fast to lose weight. That’s short-sighted. Fast to discipline your body and connect with your soul.

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting.” -Daniel 9:3

There’s something about denying your physical appetite that unlocks new spiritual awareness. Of course, God is not a genie in a bottle, waiting on you to do the magic things. But through fasting you can remind yourself that you’re a whole person—body, mind, heart, soul—and not just a slave to physical animal instincts. There is something about a little desperation that wakes us up in some gloriously uncomfortable ways.

When you fast, let your hunger prompt prayer. Let the extra time be productive. And enjoy the physical benefits of not over-eating. It’s an all-around win.

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Years and days

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Do you feel like you’ve been waiting a long time for something?

For that person…
For that place…
For that opportunity…
For that change…

I do. I feel that. There’s a sense in which I trust a picture of the future that is somewhat clear but not totally. And we’re not there yet. I see it. Others have said it. I believe it. And while its ambiguous, it’s even more slow in arriving.

“A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” -1 Peter 3:8

This verse brings me back to the awareness that God is outside of space and time. Not only is He not working on my timeline, I can’t fathom what a “timeline” actually is to this God. Then is now, now is then, when has arrived and yet we’re still waiting.

I’m reminded of the scene from The Princess Bride when the Spaniard is dueling the Man in Black. The Man in Black is stubborn and unwilling to reveal his identity to his worthy opponent. “Get used to disappointment,” he tells him.

Don’t get used to disappointment. But get used to being patient. You won’t be disappointed in the end, but the end and beginning are a mind-boggling kaleidoscope of oneness to our God. You’re already “there” to Him. But not to you; not to me. So, I guess we need to learn to patiently enjoy the journey and embrace the process.

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Vacation

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Do you have a vacation scheduled?

If no, that’s step one. If yes, I’d invited you to think about your upcoming vacay a little differently.

A) Always have one scheduled. This is significant for two reasons: 1) It gives you something to look forward to and an activity plan with whomever you’re traveling. 2) Life flies by, and by the time you schedule a vacation you’ll already be burnt out and won’t think it through well.

B) Break from the pattern. I love my routines and systems. And, routines and systems are necessary for making efficient progress. AND, we need to break from even our best routines once or twice a year to keep us fresh and reevaluating everything.

C) Consider a brighter future. Maybe things are going great. Maybe you’re in a rough patch. Either way, whatever the season, use your break from the norm to reevaluate your normal modes of operation, and determine if there’s a better path or a different destination.

On our recent 10-year-anniversay trip, Hilary and I did the above. We didn’t have our kids with us—for the first time—and we were far away and embracing new or no routines. As we hiked and walked, Hilary and I also discussed ideas in which the two of us could collaborate more together and partner in projects. It was exciting and uniting. It gave us a sense of newness and shared optimism about some future ideas. It’s those kinds of things that bond us and bring new energy.

When’s the next vacation? With whom are you traveling? And, if helpful, remember the A, B, C’s.

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