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Thank you.

I don’t know how long I sat in front of my computer, trying to figure out how to begin this final post. The only thing that seems appropriate is to begin by thanking you.

For giving me your time.

For sharing with me your thoughts.

For putting up with me when I have been wrong.

I have been so humbled by all of the time you have shared with me.

There is a season for all things, and it is hard for me to believe that I have kept this season going, kept this torch lit for seven years. My life is in a very different place than it was seven years ago. Blogging itself is very different. Seven years ago, I secretly started a blog, on a whim, and didn’t even tell my wife for a month. I didn’t want to tell her if I was just going to quit.

Today, I am several years into a teaching career that I love. I have a wide vision for the program I am building. I am getting my feet wet in a new church and look forward to a new chapter in my ministry life. I am a dad to a child for whom Cheri and I prayed for years. And I have many other ambitions and projects, decades worth of work, that I want to accomplish. When I started writing, none of this existed.

Blogging has been a fruitful pastime for me. It brought me two books. I was listed among the most widely read Christian bloggers by Church Relevance. I got to travel to Africa. And I met, in person and online, many insightful, gifted writers, whom I admired. Cheri and I were invited into the homes of readers when we traveled. It is for all of these reasons that I have found it hard to say good-bye to this chapter.

But I add up the things I now do, and the things I wish to do, and it is clear that the time has come. I am supposed to be a teacher. I am supposed to be a leader. I am supposed to be a dad and husband. But right now, I am not supposed to be a writer, at least not in this capacity.

I leave this chapter, this platform, with mixed feelings. On the one hand,  am not so sure that the world or the church has improved in seven years. I am not certain that all of our words, our social media, our memes and quotes has accomplished what we have hoped for. Next week, I will almost certainly have thoughts and feelings about the goings-on in the world, but I do not feel that my first and best efforts should be dedicated to sharing those feelings publicly.

On the other hand, while I may sometimes be cynical, anxious or fearful about the state of the world, I am eternally optimistic about the Church (capital C). As Screwtape told his nephew, we humans cannot see the Church as the Enemy sees it. We see the human edifice, the petty ideas, the big show, all of which is destined to go as chaff. But Christ’s Church is his Bride, and it is eternal. We may be living in a cultural and spiritual slump in this generation. But the flame of the Church, however stifled, however faint, will never die out.

On that note, I leave you, friends, brothers, sisters. I give you my most humble and heartfelt thanks for the time you have shared with me. May you feel all the grace and love of Jesus in your lives.

I’ve spent most of my life in Kansas City.

That’s Kansas City, Missouri, mind you. Not Kansas. A few out of town sports announcers will arrive from time to time and say something idiotic on television like “It’s such a clear day here in Kansas City that you can see all the way to Missouri!” 

Anyway, for my entire conscious life, it has been pretty easy to not be a sports fan in Kansas City. I mean, I’ve literally never blogged about sports. Don’t even have a post category for sports. I’m not a fair-weather fan. It’s just that tuning out a terrible season is a self-defense mechanism.

We Kansas Citians are a long-suffering breed, the kind of folks who will diligently root for our teams through 100 loss seasons. But we won’t talk about them in mixed company. If you are from another city, I will not discuss our hometown teams with you. Yeah, our house is a mess, but it’s our mess, so leave us alone.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy week in Kansas City, as a sort, not really, but eternally hopeful sports fan.

I was honestly not going to watch the Chiefs on Monday night. I did not think I could stomach our city being humiliated. I would never have guessed it would the Patriots who would be humiliated in front of an international audience.

And then our Royals, pulling off one of the most dramatic wins ever…in their first postseason appearance since I was two years old.

I think our sports teams really might be like our messy homes. It doesn’t matter if the house is a mess. And it doesn’t matter how the season turns out. It’s our mess, and we are happy with it.

Have you ever felt uninspired?  Like you just can’t get in the flow of things?

I know I have.  I have struggled to get started on writing.  I have struggled to start art projects.  There are days when it all seems easy, and days when it’s just a drag.

Maybe Mondays do it to you.  Or maybe someone at work.  Or maybe the pile of laundry at home drains your inspiration.

Whatever the cause, I have often believed that I have to feel inspired before I get started.

So I try to find just the right place to write, with just the right light and temperature so I’m comfortable.  And I try to listen to just the right music.  And hopefully I will have read just the right books over the last few days so my brain is feeling full.

See, we all have this romantic idea of creativity, that it is this ultra-inspired thing that happens.

The problem is our real lives are never situated just right for maximum inspiration.

We have distractions.  We have problems.  We have writers’ block.  We are tired.

And the quest for inspiration becomes just procrastination.  We never start because we are trying to get inspired.

That’s why I like Chuck Close so much.  He is one of the most accomplished painters of our time.  This is what he says about inspiration.

inspiration

What if we stopped trying to feel inspired and just did something?  We might just be surprised at how inspiring the results are.

9780800722050Today, I’m pleased to share with you a book from my friend, Alexandra Kuykendall, called ‘The Artist’s Daughter.’  Alexandra was kind enough to send me a copy of the book in exchange for a copy of mine.  Two barriers initially stood between me and the book.  First, I’m not much of a memoir reader.  I think I have about one one my shelf.  Two, I’m not really at the center of the target audience.  Despite that, I enjoyed the book and I think you should check it out.  Alexandra was kind enough to answer a few questions to help you get a sense of what it’s all about.

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Hello, and welcome back, my friends!  I am so glad to be back to the blog, starting a new year with you.  I hope your holidays were fantastic, and I just want to start a new year of blogging by saying how thankful I am for each of you.  It’s going to be a great year!

Now, let’s get on with things!

A lot of words are spoken in an entire year.

If God has numbered the hairs on our heads, perhaps He knows how many words we speak.  I sure don’t.

The thing about words is that many of them are not that important.  Many of them are sort of carelessly spoken.  Some, you wish could be taken back.  Some remain unspoken, despite our deep desire to let them out.  Others are not heard, or misunderstood, or come out at the wrong place at the wrong time.

What if you could sum up your hopes for an entire year with one word.

That’s the point of One Word 365, as I interpret it.  My friend, Alece Ronzino of Grit and Glory started the One Word community a few years ago, encouraging people to focus on just one word for the coming year.  Because New Year’s resolutions are needlessly wordy and almost always forgotten.  One word could be about goals, tangible or intangible.  It’s a filter and a prism to view your life through.  It’s a prayer, a meditation, a focus or a goal.

This year, I’m jumping on board.  I’m making One Word part of my year.

What word is going to shape my 2013?

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…And to All a Good Night

December 17, 2012

Hey friends.

I just want to say that I’m super glad we spend this time together.  I have a great time writing and sharing and reading from each of you.  I’m glad we’re blog buddies.

Right now, I’m going to take a much needed sabbatical through the end of the year so I can spend the rest of the Christmas season with some focus and clarity.

Remember, the incarnation is proof that God does not exaggerate.  There are no lengths or depths He will not travel to find you.  There is no limit to His love for you.  He intends to make all things new and bring justice to the world.  His zeal for these things consumes His thoughts.  There was a literal baby laying in a literal barn that proved that God wasn’t making it all up.

That is an amazing thing.

So, I’ll be back on Wednesday January 2.  What can you expect from me in the new year?

We’ll be just three months away from the release of Life After Art.  You’ll get to read some more about the book and my unlikely path to publication.

I’ll be sharing stories of people creating great things that make the world better for others through a new blog series.

If you have not yet, give me a “Like” on my new Facebook page.  It’ll give you one more avenue to the inside track on my book as we near release (and you’ll be helping me spread the word, which I greatly appreciate.)  I’ll still be hanging out on Facebook and Twitter over the next couple of weeks.

I would love to hear how you plan to celebrate the holidays.  I will see you next year, my friends!