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I’m excited to announce my new book, “Toxic Soul: A Pastors Guide to Leading Without Losing Heart” will be released on July 11.

Written with my brother Jason Isaacs, “Toxic Soul” is a book for pastors and church leaders. We’ve spent our life around pastors. As fourth generation pastor’s kids, it’s not a stretch to say we’ve probably met close to 10,000 pastors in our lifetime, and sadly many of us serving in ministry are jaded and disheartened. We are angry, lonely, depressed, discouraged, bitter, confused, cynical and hopeless. We lost the joy of our salvation somewhere in the process of working for God.

That’s why we’ve written this book, to help find healing for your toxic soul; to recover your passion for ministry and overcome discouragement and defeat. The book also includes insights and stories from some our friends and mentors, including Matt Keller, Sam Chand, Dave Willis, and more.

Here’s where you come in.

New books are written every day, the challenge is spreading the word. We believe “Toxic Soul” will help every pastor and church leader who reads it, and our desire is to get a copy into as many of their hands as possible. That’s why we’re assembling a launch team to help us get the word out.

As a member of the launch team you will receive a free digital or paperback copy of the book, but in return, we are asking you to help us promote the book and write a review on Amazon before the release date. If you are interested in joining the launch team please click the link and fill out the short form.

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Yawn Like Somebody is Watching

The Response to What You’re Doing

The other day I was driving down the road and passed a car heading in the opposite direction. I glanced over just before the other car passed by to see the driver yawning. In a flash they were gone…and I started to yawn.

Even typing the words, I actually just yawned. I just yawned again. I’m not tired, but I can’t stop yawning. Are you thinking about yawning yet? Have you yawned yet? How about now?

Maybe you are one of those rare people who can refrain from yawning even when you see it happening or hear about it. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I yawned several times while looking at Google Images of people yawning to find a picture for this post.

Yawning is contagious. If you’re ever bored at a restaurant, just find someone at another table and fake a yawn while making eye contact with them. They’ll start yawning. It’s hilarious.

I don’t really want to talk about yawning though. I want to talk about what I learned from my encounter with the yawning driver who passed by.

After she passed me, I imitated her behavior. It wasn’t a premeditated response, but it happened. She had no idea how her action affected me.

Have you ever thought about how your actions are affecting other people? If you have, perhaps you have attempted to alter behavior you didn’t want repeated. However, in the rhythm of everyday life sometimes we forget that people may be watching and we quit acting and just yawn…I mean live our actual lives.

If people mimicked the way you talk to your spouse, would their marriage be healthy?

If someone talked to their kids the way you talk to yours, would you think they were good parents?

If another Christian followed Christ the way you do, would they be growing closer to Him or falling further away?

I recognize that this might seem overwhelming. It may make you sweat. It might scare you, but it doesn’t have to. Their responses could be positive or negative things. Somewhere, someone is probably emulating some of your good behavior too.

The reality is, people are always watching. If you have kids living at home, they are for sure. You are consciously and subconsciously modeling for them what it means to be an adult. Even beyond kids, people on your job, people in your community, your neighbors, your friends, and total strangers. They are just passing by, observing your behavior and it has an affect on them.

What actions are you taking that may be causing a response from someone else?

Live like someone is watching. Because they are!

How to Be Strategic

It’s Not as Hard as You Think

Most Saturdays for our little family are filled running between baseball games, lacrosse games and eating food in the car. We’ve been pretty lucky thus far to juggle practice nights during the week without feeling like we are all running in opposite directions. However, Saturdays are a bit trickier. Everyone plays on Saturday. This usually involves at least two cars, some expert scheduling to get everyone where they need to be on time, and a lot of FaceTime calls so one parent can include the other parent in watching an at bat or goal scored from miles away.

A few weeks ago Tucker had team pictures at 8am, a baseball game at 9am, Cooper had a baseball game 20 miles away at 9am, and Branson had a lacrosse game 10 miles away, but not until 3pm. To complicate things a bit, Corrie’s phone had been dropped that week and her screen was cracked so much she was getting glass on her face whenever she talked on the phone. Knowing that our schedule would not be conducive to getting it fixed the next week I decided to “fit in” a Genius Bar appointment around lunchtime.

So…after the morning games I went and parked my car at the field where Branson would play later that afternoon, Corrie met me and we rode together to the mall to eat lunch and get her phone fixed. Then we drove back to Branson’s game where we had two cars.

I’m a dork, so I have to tell you that I actually sat down the night before to chart out the plan and talk it through with Corrie. I had checked Waze to make sure I knew how far it was between the various locations we needed to be throughout the day. I was pretty pumped about my plan.

That’s really all strategy is…a plan.

A lot of people say, “I’m not strategic” or “I need someone to help me develop a strategy for that.” While I agree that there are people who are more strategic thinkers than others, I think we can all be strategic. It just requires a little planning.

So here’s 4 ways to be more strategic.

1- Define the goal.

For us on that Saturday it was getting everyone where they needed to be as efficiently as possible. At my church, we have a goal to see 15 people get outside the United States this year and serve on the “mission field.” In your home, maybe it is getting all the laundry done before guests come visit next weekend. It doesn’t really matter what your goal is. You just have to know what it is.

2- Decide who will be involved.

Some people wait to add people to the process after the plan is developed. I like to know who and how many before I work out the how. Having a few more or a few less people may dictate what we actually do.

3- Determine the plan.

Work backwards from your goal. We had to get to Branson’s game by 2:30 for warmups. So what time do we need to leave the mall? Okay, is there a Genius Bar appointment between 12 and 1pm? How long will it take us to get to the mall from the field? What time would Tucker’s game need to be over for us to get to the mall on time? There seems to be extra time, would it be beneficial to park a car and meet so we are only driving one car to the mall and back?

Or…The guests arrive on Friday. I have 96 loads of laundry. It takes 2 hours to wash, dry and fold a load. I need at least 6 hours of sleep per night. So I have 18 hours a day of non-stop laundry to get it all done. 😉

You may realize as you work backwards that you have to eliminate some steps, or you don’t have time or the resources to do what needs to be done. So you have to change the plan, move the deadline or change the number of people involved.

4- Don’t be too rigid.

Work your plan, but be willing to adapt if necessary. Strategy is only as good as it’s execution. So don’t give up if it doesn’t work exactly like you hoped it would (more on that later this week).

I promise you can be strategic. You just have spend some time developing a plan.

 

If you are trying to accomplish something and need an outside set of eyes to help you develop or think through your strategy click here. I’d love to help.

How to Make Better Decisions

Knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”

Recently our family visited the beach for Spring Break. The evenings were filled with All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Buffets, lazer tag, go-kart racing and Aloe Vera. The days were filled with walks on the beach, swimming in the pool, sand castles and riding waves in the ocean.

As I watched my three boys riding waves it was quickly obvious that what could be a leisurely activity was turning into the Wave Riding World Championship. They walked, waded, and maneuvered their way out to deeper waters and then waited…

It was at this point that I realized they were demonstrating something in the ocean that I needed in my leadership.

Not every wave is worth riding. Learning which waves to ride is what makes you successful.

There are literally millions of books, podcasts, magazines, and blog posts to inspire you, teach you and challenge you. The problem comes when you try to implement every (or a lot of) idea(s) you come across.

I once knew a youth pastor who literally changed what he preached (and really what he thought he believed about God) based on the latest book he was reading.

I see leaders who change their mission, vision, strategy, hiring process, staffing structure, and more after every conference they attend.

I know people  who move the furniture or hang a new picture in a room in their house after every episode of “Fixer Upper”.

There are several problems for people like this:

1- They don’t truly know who they are or what they like/believe.

Remember the movie “Runaway Bride”? To really find herself she needed to know how she liked her eggs, and not just how the man she was with at the time liked his eggs.

When you are secure in who you are, you aren’t as easily swayed by the latest fad or most recent podcast you listened to. That doesn’t mean you don’t implement new ideas, but you do so after evaluating the information and filtering it for your context.

2- They don’t make me want to follow their lead.

The only thing worse than a lack of leadership is schizophrenic leadership. If I can’t be sure that who we are when I show up to work today is at least similar to who we were when I left work yesterday, I’m not sure I can stay here.

Some leaders think they are inspiring followers by being open to change, when really they are creating an uneasiness that eventually becomes unsettling.

So how do you decide which waves are worth riding?

Be patient. Recognize that there will be far more waves you don’t ride than those that you do ride. Activity is not success. Effectiveness is success.

Go for it. Just because you can’t ride every waves doesn’t mean you can’t ride some. When you see a wave that you think will carry you where you want to go, start kicking!

I loved watching my boys run to where I was sitting after riding a wave all the way up onto the beach. The excitement was written on their faces.

I want more days like that in leadership. I think it means I just have to let some good waves go by while waiting for the best ones.

 

Swing at Every Pitch

Why Taking Risks and Failing is Worth It

My son Tucker plays “coach-pitch” 7 & 8 year old baseball. I am not coaching his team this year, but his coach asked for a volunteer to pitch and I answered the call.

The first practice I was pitching to the kids in the batting cage and trying to figure out their skill levels, how aggressively to pitch to them, etc. The third batter into the cage was the smallest kid on the team, but I knew immediately I was going to like this kid. He stepped into the batter’s box with a very confident approach and  no matter where I pitched it he swung, and he swung HARD! One pitch was a little low, he swung at it, but didn’t hit it because it was almost on the ground. I said, “sorry, that wasn’t a very good pitch. You don’t have to swing if it’s not a good pitch.” He replied emphatically, “It’s okay. I swing at EVERY pitch.”

I literally LOL’ed.  While his approach may not be approved by the MLB or score well with Sabermetrics, but having coached little leaguers for about 10 years, his is a good problem to have. The overwhelming majority of my players have had to be taught to swing the bat, and swing aggressively. They are more concerned with finding the right pitch or not getting hit by the pitch than they are to give it their all on every pitch. By being passive in their approach they let a lot of really good pitches go by.

What’s your approach in life and leadership? Do you have an “I swing at every pitch” mentality or an “I don’t want to swing at a bad pitch so I let some good ones go by” mentality?

I recognize that this metaphor has some holes in it. Not every pitch is worth swinging at, but so often people miss great opportunities because they are being too cautious.

I’ve heard you have to spend money to make money. I’ve read that a large percentage of millionaires have also filed bankruptcy. Some of my favorite authors talk about being embarrassed when they read their first published book. Maybe you (or your “friend”) laments missed business opportunities, the investment that “would have” made them tons of money, or the guy/girl they “could have” married if they’d had the courage to ever ask them out.

Don’t be that person. Be aggressive. Take a risk. Sure you may strike out every now and then, but you’ll also have way more fun playing than the guy who watches every pitch go by and walks back to the dugout knowing he never even tried.

 

3 Reasons Fast isn’t Always Best

The Power of the Process

My wife is an amazing “homemaker”. That’s probably not even the right word for what she does. Sometimes she is a DIY furniture maker. Other times she finds obscure antiques or knick-nacks and turns them into statement decor in our home. She is also the self-proclaimed “fastest painter in the world.”

She finds a color she likes, picks up a gallon, and we are moving furniture to the middle of the room that evening. We don’t obsess over color selection. She knows what she likes when she sees it. If we get it on the wall and don’t like it we can paint over it.

However…

We are both impatient. We like to paint the room, move the furniture back and take the “After” picture. The project needs to feel complete before we go to bed. While we are still passionate about the idea we want to leverage our energies toward completion.

I’ve adopted and love her get it done now mentality with painting. However, I have come to realize that I carry this same attitude with me into everyday living. Undone projects tend to eventually become the things we’ll get to “one day”. So I rush through to get the job done. After all, no one ever takes an almost finished picture.

The problem is, a lot of things worth doing can’t be done quickly. Financial responsibility starts with a decision and hard choices initially, but it’s never really “finished.” Weight loss or healthier living is ongoing. Educational endeavors take time.

So what do we do?

Stop comparing your “work in progress” to someone else’s “finished product.”

      The reality is they probably aren’t finished either. They just may be a little further down the road than you. It’s also important to view everything on social media like you do the objects in your rearview mirror.

While the mirror tells you “objects are closer than they appear”, social media should come with the caption “not as fabulous as presented.” The perfect Instagram picture of their clean house doesn’t reveal the dirty laundry hidden behind the door.

      The glowing Facebook post about their weight loss journey doesn’t show the lingering insecurity in front of the mirror.

If you allow yourself to be shaped by someone else’s well-crafted narrative you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary heartache.

Appreciate the benefits of “sleeping on it.”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve painted a room, cleaned up, moved the furniture back and gone to bed, only to have the light of a new day reveal a spot we missed. Taking a little extra time gives you a perspective that finishing too quickly will rob from you.

My dad says he has two financial decisions he still regrets to this day. Both were made without walking away to sleep on it and returning the next day to close the deal. There are very few things that can’t wait an extra 12 hours.

Remember the original “why.”

Pastor Mark Batterson talks about the power of a picture in a cow pasture.

It’s not that the cow pasture has any power. It’s just that he originally felt the call of God on his life walking through that cow pasture. So he went back and got a picture of himself standing in the pasture and hung it in his office. On those days where his job feels “unfinished” he looks at that picture to remember his excitement for the original calling.

Why did you start out on this journey? Why did you originally go back to school? Why did you originally want to save money? Why did you commit to purity before marriage or faithfulness within your marriage, in the first place?

If you can remember WHY, you’ll eventually figure our HOW.

If you’re like us you love to finish the job and cross the item off your to-do list. But don’t be afraid to embrace the work in progress.

It’s where life is actually lived!

 

Spring 2017 Coaching for Lead & Campus Pastors

An Affordable Way to Grow as a Leader

I have previously written about my involvement in coaching for Pastors and church leaders. I have been on the receiving end of some incredible coaching over the years that has made me a better pastor, husband, father and leader.

Last year I began serving as a facilitator for Next Level Solutions, out of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, FL. Pastor Matt Keller has a heart to help Pastors and created an amazing model of online coaching that still facilitates relationships while providing practical content and invaluable access to their team. Next Level was recently named one of the fastest growing churches in America, but what I really love about them is that they have spent a little time at every size while growing from 14 to over 4000 in attendance.

Their level 1 coaching, “Making the Jump”, consists of 7 online sessions meeting every other week where we discuss things like:

  • The S-Curve of church growth
  • The health of the leader
  • Practicals for leading staff and volunteers
  • Tools for evaluating your Sundays
  • and so much more!

I have a new group kicking off on February 15th and I would love for you to be involved! The cost is $350, which comes out to just $50/session. However, if you are a church planter, church revitalizer, or a pastor of a church under 75 I have a discount available for you.

Just fill out this form to let me know you’re interested or to get more information. I’ll follow up to answer any questions you may have or to get you all the necessary info to get registered.

Your Niche’ Can Be Your Noose

Why What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

If you were to ask me what, more than any other factor, has been most detrimental to my progress as a leader in 15 years of ministry, I would say “personal preference,” and it’s not even close.

I know what I want, and I want it now.

When I chose pastoring as my profession, I entered with set ideas and preferences about the “kind” of church I wanted to build. Some of those preferences changed over the years, but like a good pair of sweatpants, most of those originals likings have stuck around. Not only are they still around, but I would go as far as to say they have been the driving force of a lot of my success. The same applies to you. If you’re smart, you double down on the unique qualities about yourself that stand out to others. Your preaching style, relational ability, singing voice, etc. The danger comes when our comfort and preference keeps us from growing into the next season of leadership God wants us to experience. Let me show you.

In a podcast interview with Carey Nieuwhof Craig Groeschel said: “When you find a quality or practice in a leader who is ahead of you, pay attention to what makes you uncomfortable about their leadership, and you will have identified where you need to grow.” Dang Craig!

Have you ever gotten to know or observed a leader ahead of you and been bothered by things that go against your personal preference?

  • Does it bother how much the pastor of the larger church talks about money?
  • Does it bother you how all the worship leaders look young and trendy?
  • Does it bother you how honoring the church or staff is towards the pastor?
  • Does it bother you how Spirit-filled or non-spirit filled the services are?
  • Are they too direct with their team?
  • Do they make too much salary?
  • Does the youth pastor not spend enough time with the students?
  • Does the children’s pastor use fun more than scripture to teach the children?
  • Is the facility too big, nice, or expensive?
  • Does it bother you, you have to go through their assistant to reach them?
  • Does it bother you they don’t handle pastoral care (visits, calls, etc.)

Once you identify the bothersome practices and preferences of a leader beyond you, chances are high you just identified your biggest potential for growth.

All leaders have strong opinions; it’s almost a requirement. Leadership requires a core conviction to drive a vision and mission down through the organization. The danger is when our opinions and preferences become our niches’.

Often the thing we think is our niche’ is really a noose holding us back from going to the next level of leadership, It’s hard to admit and even harder to change because our niche’ helped us get to where we are. Our small corner on the market is our identity and the single biggest factor for our success to this point. You’re the funny guy, the yelling preacher, the soloist, I get it. People love you. You love you.

When you get to this point you have a really difficult choice to make, one sadly many leaders choose not to make; are you willing to give up your preference in order to grow to the next level of leadership? It’s an important question because what got you here won’t get you there.

I’m an ISTP from the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile quiz (If you haven’t taken the quiz you need to. Click here to take it.) ISTP describes me with spooky accuracy, but it also gives me a convicting revelation. Only 3.1% of people in the world are ISTP’s, which means (in general terms) 3 out of every 100 people prefer what I prefer, and 97 people out of 100 disagree with me at any given time. The most popular Myers Briggs profile is ISFJ, 13.8% of the world’s population fall into this personality category, meaning even the most popular preference is only shared by 13 out of 100. This may explain why the average small church built around preference is less than 80 people.

What do you love about yourself? Go ahead and admit it, no one will know but you. Do you like the way you preach or sing? Do you like saving the day as people’s hero? Do you like being a critical thinker or perfectionist, or identifying the flaws in ideas? Do you like being unorganized? (Silly to say I know but how often do unorganized people say things like, “I know here everything is in all this mess,” or “I need it a little chaotic to be creative.”) Do you like that you worship from a hymnal or wear jeans to church? There a million little idiosyncrasies and preferences that have brought you to your currently level of success and leadership. There’s nothing wrong with them unless you want to grow. If you want to grow you’re probably going to have to lay them at the altar.

To be clear, I’m not talking about changing your identity. You can always care for people; you just have to figure our new scalable ways to care. You can always preach, but you have to figure out ways to reinvent your preaching. What you can’t do is keep trying to put new wine into old wineskins.

Learn to say “for now” instead of “never” it will save you a lot of humiliation in the future. This is just how we do it for now.

Admitting your self-percieved strengths are actually hindrances is the apex of self-realization. Most can’t grasp it, but if you’re willing to lean in instead of pull back from new ideas outside of your comfort level you will likely experience a new season of growth reserved for only those brave enough to lay down their preference.

The Best Thing You Can Do This Week

You have probably had an advantage over the last 2 weeks that you might not have for several more weeks or months.

That advantage?

For most people it was a few days off from work for the holidays. Why is that an advantage, you ask? Because it keeps you from doing your job. Said another way, you aren’t working “in” your job. Let me explain.

The greatest enemy to strategic thinking, planning and evaluation is the constant grind of doing your job. There are emails to be dealt with. Phone calls to return. Meetings to attend. Presentations to prepare. You get the idea.

But to truly be effective, you need to do something different than work “in” your job. You need to work “on” your job.

I call this “zooming out.” This is pushing back from the routine to look at the bigger picture. Focusing not on the things that you need to do today or even this week, but the things you need to do in the next 60-90 days and beyond.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to work with this perspective sitting at your desk in between meetings. The crush of the urgent keeps you from truly being able to see all that needs to be seen for longer-term strategic thinking.

So, being off of work for a few days might just be the best possible scenario for your effectiveness this first quarter of 2017…if you’ll take advantage of it.

I realize there are things to rush back to, but what if you set aside some time this week to “zoom out”? Schedule a meeting with yourself at Starbucks for 3 hours one afternoon before this next week is over. Block out some time one morning and go rent some co-working space to help foster creativity.

Your success, and the productivity of your team, in the next 60-90 days could depend on your willingness to “zoom out” some this week and “work on it, not in it.”

Life Lessons – Part 2

I started writing last week about 35 observations I have made since turning 35 last month. They are in no particular order and you can read the first half of the list HERE. After reading both lists I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

19.  I should have learned more about money-management as early as possible. I was smart so I understood some things intuitively, but I didn’t spend enough time around lots of people and resources that would help me manage money better until I got a little older.

20. Things are just things. My friend Matt taught me this phrase recently. Before that I would have called this “Possessions only really matter in the moment.” What I mean is most of the things I “have” to have in the moment are just things in my house after a few days, weeks, months or years. There are things in storage boxes right now that I have not used or touched in months or even years that at one time or another was a “have to buy”.

21. I make better decisions when I’m not in a hurry. This could be applied to every area of my life, but when I slow down, weigh things out, remove as much emotion as possible…I just make better decisions.

22. Sleep is important. My mom used to tell me that our bodies heal at night while we sleep, so if we don’t sleep we don’t heal. I’m not sure if that was even scientifically correct, but it’s practically correct. I feel worse the less I sleep and it has a cumulative effect. I’m better in every area of my life when I’m sleeping well for long enough periods of time.

23. Kids grow up too fast. I don’t mean this in the condescending way it sounds to those younger than me. I mean it more as a dad. My four kids are getting older, faster. I swear. It seems like it was just yesterday that they were learning how to crawl, and now we are navigating devices, proper relationships, language, habits, and sexuality. I wish they would slow down.

24. Fear is real, but it’s fake. I know some people who have a very real struggle with fear and anxiety. It’s a real thing, and in no way am I belittling that. However, I also believe that fear is fake. Beyond a very small percentage of the things we actually fear, most of the things we are afraid of haven’t and even won’t happen. They are fake fears. They are the monsters under our bed, and yet they grip us and keep us from living fully free.

25. News agencies cater to our fears. I don’t watch the news on television anymore. I scan the headlines on my computer or phone, but not near as much as I used to. The reason: these companies make money the more they sensationalize the events happening around us. Many times they have become part of the story rather than just reporting on it.

26. God knew what He was doing when He created the idea of Sabbath. I talked about sleeping earlier, this is not that. This is the idea that I have intentional time in my schedule and calendar that validates this reality:

I am not what I can produce.

When I work non-stop it is actually rooted in an unhealthy place that doesn’t honor God. I’m better 6 days a week than I am 7 days a week because that’s the way God made me.

27. Everyone needs a mentor/coach. It’s no secret that I believe in coaching and mentoring. I have been a recipient and I’m now actively coaching pastors and leaders. You can read more of my philosophy HERE. But my life, leadership and ministry is better because of those a few steps ahead of me helping me navigate my own life. I have mentors as a husband, father, pastor, leader, writer, speaker, and more. I think everyone needs people like this.

28. “You can’t go cheap on toilet paper, peanut butter or underwear.” This was a phrase my mom said over and over when I was growing up. She would buy off brand all the time, but not in the 3 categories above. She believed the higher price here was well worth it.

29. My wardrobe got better when I just gave up control. For the first few years of our marriage I wore what I’d always worn. It wasn’t great, but it was comfortable and I could usually get Buy One Get One ____. At some point Corrie started slipping clothes into my closet and drawers and I didn’t realize it until I was getting complimented for clothes I didn’t remember buying. Eventually I just gave up control and I’m thankful for it.

30. With a good tool, and a Youtube tutorial video I can fix almost anything. Technology has made me an actual, honest to goodness handyman. In a stage of life where money wasn’t readily available I learned how to fix my hot water heater, leaking toilet, change my oil, change my brakes and rotors, and lay flooring in my house…while watching someone else do it on Youtube.

31. There is a difference between a cup of coffee and a “good” cup of coffee. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was pursuing my Master’s degree while married, pastoring, and had young kids at home. My friend Jonny was staying with us recently and he made some coffee but it involved a process to make it and time to let it sit. That was a new experience for a guy who just hits the start button on the auto coffee pot. But it’s a shame both of these things are called coffee, because what he served me was something else entirely.

32. You are what you read. (aka “Leaders are Readers”). I’ve always loved to read. My brother always hated to read…until recently. Now he reads circles around me. But I believe that reading has set me up to be a better leader, writer and speaker, among so many other things. By continually exposing myself to outside voices, even those I disagree with, across a variety of genres, I’m better.

33. Hair travels. I noticed it in older men long before I started getting older, but there’s less and less hair on my head and more and more hair…

34. I failed to realize how much a compliment was worth. I have always been surrounded by very affirming people. My mom often led the way in this area for me. While I would say that “words of affirmation” is not my love language, I never really wanted for affirmation. After her death there was a void left that I didn’t realize until it was too late. My dad, brother and friends are still very affirming, but I’ve realized that I’m not as good at giving affirmation as I probably should be because I took for granted how much I needed it myself.

35. My brother is an idiot. I use the term idiot as a term of endearment, and I’m not even kidding. If I call you an idiot it means I really love you. My brother Jason is a huge idiot. Nobody makes me more angry, but nobody makes me laugh harder. Corrie knows when I’m talking to him on the phone because I’m either ticked off or laughing so hard I’m crying. I’m thankful for our daily phone calls.

 

Honorable Mention:

Once I started making this list I came up with more than I needed. So here are a few more that almost, but didn’t quite, make the list.

36. Early bird gets the worm. I’m an early riser, for the most part. But I have definitely learned that I am more productive the earlier in the day I get started.

37. Dry cleaned shirts just fit better. There’s a place by my house that dry cleans shirts for dirt cheap. Once I found this out I started taking a few shirts at a time to get dry cleaned and my clothes miraculously started fitting better.

38. A full tank of gas is overrated. I hate stopping for gas. It’s a pain to stop whatever forward progress I’m making to stand still and wait…So I run ridiculously low most of the time. There have been times (the exact number is not important) when I have run out of gas. Thanks to my friends who have helped me in these moments. You know who you are.

39. The quality of a good pillow. I knew I was getting older the first time I took “my” pillow on an overnight trip away from home. You just never know what kind of pillow you’re going to find in the hotel or friends’ guest room. There doesn’t seem to be much in between. It’s either soft as a cloud and my sinuses get stopped up or hard as a rock and my neck hurts the next day. So I travel with mine.

40. I swear stuff hides from me. I can be looking for something very intently only to discover that it’s not where I thought it was or told it was. Corrie walks into the same room and the thing magically appears. I’ve looked into the refrigerator for something and didn’t see it. I close the door. She opens it and wouldn’t you know it, the thing is sitting right on the shelf where I looked. It’s some kind of voodoo wife magic or something. I still don’t understand it.

 

Alright, now it’s your turn. What are some things you’ve learned in your years on earth? Which ones of mine have you observed as well?