Category: output

A Better Story

Recently, I was walking through the Charlotte airport during a layover, on my way to play violin at my grandmother’s memorial service. I came upon a young man playing a grand piano in the middle of the food court.

Go play music with him,” the Holy Spirit nudged. Really? Me? Now? You want me to be that guy?

Note: It’s hard to argue with God when you are caught red-handed — I had my violin case in my hand!

Go play a few songs,” I was nudged again. I’ve been trying to pay attention to God’s promptings, since his story is always best. So…

I asked if I could play violin along with him on piano. He loved the idea, and started off with a Journey song. I tried to keep up, playing the melody. This guy was amazingly talented!

“Do you know the song How Great Thou Art?” the young man asked. My smile gave away the answer. We then played hymn after hymn, violin accompanied by piano, as he kept the chords going in between. It was lovely, and I closed my eyes to ignore everyone and focus on an audience of one.

Hundreds of people were walking by, rushed, stressed, and tired from travelling. Others were eating dinner just next to the piano. Some sat in rocking chairs across the walkway, listening. One lady put two dollars in the tip jar and said, “This is better than what we normally hear!”

After a 45-minute extended medley, we ended on a well-known hymn. He stuck out his hand and said, “My name’s Harper. Who are you?”

And this is exactly how it happened.

But wait. What was the point of this random concert, anyway? Was it for me — a practice session before playing The Old Rugged Cross in honor of my grandmother? Was it for the pianist, Harper — a chance to improvise with another musician and a welcome change of pace? No, none of those.

And then it occurred to me — those nearby needed this more than Harper or I did. It made me wonder what puzzles the Holy Spirit was unraveling in various lives while they walked past. Why did some travelers have tears in their eyes?

Or forget the hundreds… For all we know, perhaps a single person needed to hear Amazing Grace that day while walking through a crowded airport.

We may never know why, and it doesn’t matter. What’s important is to go.

Haters Welcome

Haters attack those who are making progress, those who strive to attain
success, those who are not complacent. I honestly can’t wait to be hated by
people, for that will indicate that I’m actually doing something. It
implies that I am creating something worth hating. It will be fascinating
that some people feel passionately enough about my efforts that they get
upset about them.

That’s an amazing thought. Here’s to future haters, because I’m ready to
start producing something worth hating.

The temptation, for whatever reason, is to try to please everyone. A
sensitive part of us squirms every time someone says, “I didn’t like how
you….” and it derails the compliments and encouragement we receive.

Well, here’s the deal. I didn’t begin to enhance efforts / write / blog /
ship / create / design / improve / play violin / develop software / mix
audio / produce / tinker with technology / solve problems / in order to
impress haters — nor will I do so now! I answer to God. He created my
shape and my quirks and my personality and my struggles and my passions.
Though I need to overcome a good number of my intricacies and change for
the best, some of them don’t ever need to change. In fact, I need to
embrace those and worship God by developing and living out as his unique
creation so that I can fit into his Andrew-shaped purpose.

When person A waltzes into person B’s life and expresses disgust at their
efforts, it shows a lack of perspective. What if you had a song stuck in
your head and I tell you it’s the wrong song? How is this any different?
Person B is not an idiot and is doing their best given what they
understand, whether person A respects that or not.

And you know what? It’s not about person A or person B — it’s all about
what God is up to. We can choose to participate or we can be an obstacle,
but either way, he’ll do what he wants.

It’s time to live out my unique purpose as designed by God, and to do so

Haters welcome.

Wife and I have an inside joke we use to remind ourselves that we will
never be happy unless we are content. We say sarcastically, “… and THEN
I’ll be happy” after saying something we want to do.

For example:

  • “I really want to take another motorcycle trip. THEN I’ll be happy.”
  • “I can’t wait to get the computer fixed. THEN I’ll be happy.”

Then we chuckle about it, knowing that happiness is temporary and fleeting
compared to the lasting joy of contentment. God has already blessed us with
more than we can fully understand. Let’s be fully thankful for it all and
stop wanting more and more!

Strive to be thankful with and find joy in what you have and where you are
right now. “More” of anything will not bring you joy if you are not already

“Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So
what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all
you need!”
— 1 Cor. 4:7b-8a

“It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting
something else.”
— Eccl. 6:9

What is this emotion? It’s an odd mixture of joy, sorrow, and contentment, yet I can’t quite put my finger on it.

enjoyment + sorrow + contentment = ensorrowment

These are emotions I’ve never felt all at once before. I have no idea what to do with it, but I know that it all relates to how my experiences have brought me to where I am right now.

  • I feel thorough enjoyment when I look upon my past and find great memories, mischief, and realize that I soaked in the pleasantries God set aside for me. I am blessed to have so many moments that cause me to smile in reflection.
  • I feel utter sorrow when I look upon my past and find a wake of destruction, carelessness, sloth, and unintentionality. My heart breaks at the thought of years wasted.
  • I feel reassuring contentment when I look upon my present and witness the fruits of positive experiences and negative contrasts. Lord, you have shaped me through the friction of each sorrow and the blessing of each enjoyment.

All I can do with this emotion, Lord, is to embrace it and trust that it is from you. Please use this to change me and grant me wisdom. Salvage this moment.

When Robin Robins was the guest on Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Podcast, I remember her saying that she has spent around a million dollars on educational and sales materials over the years. This includes sales classes, lecture series, books, DVDs, audiobooks, and who knows what else. Can you imagine having that much — let alone spending that much?!

My take is that she realized several things while she was young and desperately trying to make ends meet:

  • She didn’t know much about sales, but she knew enough to learn from best.
  • She fully realized the need to invest in her own personal growth to succeed.

She understood that you have to constantly learn or else you limit your ability to win.

Before hearing this, wife and I had already begun adding a new line item to our budget: Education. It was a small pool of money dedicated to personal growth through any of the various forms mentioned above. We mainly used it for what I like to call “Growth” books. (Self-help is not our aim; personal growth is!)

We used up the money set aside for Education each month, too. It turns out to be easy to find a book well worth reading if you are yearning. So we began reading more and more. We will likely change the field in our budget to say Personal Growth to reflect the mindset of constant growth and learning.

Wife and I have discussed the need to increase that amount each month, now that we can look backward and see the effect of proactively, continually searching for wisdom. The benefits are tangible, even though we are still amateurs floating in a sea of experts, and will be for many years. We’re not wise, but maybe we will be eventually.

God has much to teach us in the meantime.

I just realized that these two share a common bond: multiplication of efforts.

Imagine the power of utilizing both to their full potential. Remember, though, that technology is much less important in the big picture….

The fear is failure, but the remedy is tons of failure.

I need to fail more. More often. More spectacularly. So that some ideas will win.

The next goal is leadership. Be prepared for thousands of failures to each win. I am….

Tolerance is the most appealing of downfalls. They are happy believing something different? “Good for them.”

Lukewarm passivity is the ultimate cowardice.

Though some will err on being too forcefully opinionated, the topic of discussion today are those that are unwilling to take a stand. Know that I hate needless debate about insignificant matters; this post instead applies to that which is most significant: eternity.

But wait — no need to argue about this stuff. We can both be right…. right?

No. Take a stand. Aim your weapon. Pick your side. Make up your mind. Choosing to stand on the sidelines forfeits your position on the victorious team.

Those who have faith in cults are more respectable than those that watch from a distance, trying not to rock the boat. He who never takes the shot will always miss it. Better to try and fail than be too scared to try.

Tolerance yields participation. Draw a line in the stand and be a person of intolerance in the most important issues.

Actions speak much louder than words, so start speaking as loud as you can. Be courageous and swift, deft and unfaltering.

[Can you tell I really needed to hear this? :P]

This one time wife and I had been living out of our suitcases – separated from 90% of our stuff – for close to two years, between storage and work travel. We moved in storage, out of storage, in, out, wash, rinse, repeat. Each time, we got more sick of how heavy our furniture was, and how much time it and energy it took to move. It was disgusting how much stuff we had as two people!

Needless to say, between stressing out from work and drowning in our stuff, we burned out.

Thank God! We couldn’t hear God through all the white noise. We are thrilled that we burned out, so that we would realize we needed to quit out jobs and move to be with wife’s mom. If only we had done it sooner! We started getting rid of our stuff in a vehement upheaval of materialism. In a few days we will close our storage unit forever. All of this life experience has built up to a grand change in our lives.

Thus, wife and I are proud to announce Life With Less, a forum slash blog designed to allow communication between anyone interested in minimalism or simplistic living. We previously dealt with a stressful scenario at our previous jobs. Obviously, that time in our lives did not balance a healthy balance between work and life, and we dealt with the imbalance poorly.

PS – Sign up on the LWL forum and consider a radical lifestyle change. Challenge the norm. :D