Why do we run from things rather than toward something greater than ourselves?

What is it about our human nature that is so stoked in fear that we are constantly looking for any excuse to find the exit?

What saturates our brains in flight or fight neuropathy so much that it feels like we are always either defending our flank or leaping like an antelope for the safety of the opposite river bank?

As an amateur student of biology and evolution, I know the selfish gene theory says we are wired to preserve our life so we might pass those genes on. As a student of the Bible ( and an even greater amateur at that ) I know it has something to do with being broken and (by our choice) separated from God?

No matter the reason or combination of reasons, it is self evident that we want something different than to run. We yearn for some kind of peace and open plain, free of predators where we can idly eat our antelope grasses, without fear of the next attack.

We yearn for something or someone to protect us.

Those of us who are Christians turn to God for this peace and protection, but we often fail to truly accept it. We are always trying to do it all on our own. If he sends us people to help, we reject them for fear that they are the lion in antelope’s clothing. If he gives us a moment or two of peaceful revelation and a feeling of acceptance we reject it as not real, as a lure or trap set for us to get just a bit too close to the watering hole, so the crocodile can snatch us.

If we are not Christians and we have no other, higher power to turn to, we attempt to rely on our understanding of human nature to bring us peace. We hope that a greater and grittier acceptance and understanding of the strategies that other humans employ to stay safe will help us gaurd and cope more deftly. We strive to become the perfect antelope that can either evade or outrun or outsmart any danger. We are in utter competition with the other antelopes for our survival, sometimes clustering with a few others for our safety, but always just a bit wary of their motives.

I witness myself on both sides of this conundrum without easy answers. I think I’ve found them by knowing that I am forgiven. That I am loved, unconditionally, by my Heavenly Father. I pray that when I go to him and lay my troubles, fears and anguishes at His feet I will become like the antelope on the safe plain. I also seek answers in my study of human nature. I listen to endless podcasts and read books and blogs. I observe human nature and those around me, endlessly. Sometimes all if this feels like a continuous struggle with no obvious answer.

Only that is not really the point either, is it? Maybe we aren’t designed to be at peace continuously or have a bunch of obvious answers to our deepest yearnings? Maybe we are designed either by nature or by a prime Mover for something else?

What if we are intentionally designed to strive? What if we are meant to soar like an eagle who only gets to drift for a few glorious moments, but much of the time must flap its wings to climb or desperately dive and seek its prey?

What if the whole point is not the placid peace but the engagement? What if it is neither the quest nor attainment of competency, but the act of building competency and community? Perhaps it is not about vigilance or hiding or running at all? Perhaps it is more about the way you show up, who you show up for and only a little about how well you can find gratitude in the quiet moments when the grass is still and the plain is clear and someone or Someone whispers…

Fear not, I got you!

If that is the case, we have but one choice.

The choice to engage with our environment and lean into our community. The choice to be for something and not simply against or running from something. We have to make the choice to be better together over standing alone or in safe (but wary) clique.

One on one an antelope is not a match for a lion anymore than a single fish can be successful against a dolphin or shark. The reason herds are successful is because there is strength in numbers and strength in community. We are not meant to do this alone. Biology, God or a combo of the two, the evidence is clear that the lone antelope wandering off on its own is only going to encounter greater risk to life and limb. It doesn’t have as much chance to pass on what it has learned. It may not get to see its progeny strive and survive. It is too busy running or hiding or surviving or dying for that.

Don’t do this thing called life alone. Don’t try to figure it all out. Don’t run from those who want more for you and nothing from you.

Run TO something, be FOR something, be FOR someone and Fear not, He’s got you!

Love you guys, J

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Slapped in the face with the mirror of “for” vs “from.”

I write two blogs. This one and one for work. This one is called Four4Soaring, as you know, and the one at work is called Friday Food For Thought. I suppose, something about “F” sounds and the word “for” just speak to me. I think it is because I do my best to be ” for” people, “for” my community and “for” my family and friends.

I endeavor to provide both blogs weekly. They are written with the same purpose in mind to encourage, inspire and equip people. They are meant to be “for” people. We have this saying in my church world that is supposed to prove you “get it.” “It” being the whole “Jesus Follower thing” and it is that:

“you are supposed to want something FOR people, not something FROM them.”

That is what I think I am doing, most of the time…

Yesterday, I was kind of riding a high of being “for” people and I really thought I was wonderfully postured to continue down this path of delivering things like:

this blog and my work one

and the leadership quotes I share on multiple platforms

and leading in my areas of our church where I have been asked to lead and grow other leaders….

…..when I was slammed in the face with the possibility that this work I think I am doing is not meeting its intent!

The short version is that someone shared with me that they were not very impressed with my ability to lead and were not interested in receiving anything from me in this regard. In the ultimate irony (you will only get when you read the blog post I wrote to my work world a couple of days prior below) they said I both failed to empower others and be authentically humble. The post was named (and you just can’t make this stuff up) “Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results.” Now if you don’t believe God has a sense of humor, I can’t help you with that, because that, my friends, is both mildly painful and hilarious!

Then I went to my email this am and I saw a message from someone who I happen to live in more than one area of inluence with and it said simply this “Thank you, I really needed this today.” That wasn’t the only such message I received Friday from the Food for Thought, but it had a special meaning to me because I know this person knows me in more than one sphere. It has even more meaning this am, after being told how very unhelpful I am sometimes.

To be clear, this person is not some villain and I am not the hero. I screwed up. I did not do a good job with informing or empowering them. I needed to hear that. I may have even needed to hear the other part about not being authentically humble. I can be pretty arrogant sometimes and pride is something I wrestle with. So this person i right on many levels. I am grateful for the feedback, but what if anything do I do to change what I am already doing?

Which is it? Am I a fraud, a charlatan, or worst yet a “sorcerer” trying to influence and cajole people into liking me? Am I really doing all this to inflate my own ego and be liked? Do I want something “from” people or do I want something “for” people? I’m going to keep asking myself that question and I’m going to ask God to help show me the answer.

Until I get the answer I’m going to keep doing what I feel I am called to do. Until I get more clarity, I’m going to keep trying to be the best leader I can be. I’m going to keep trying to help you be the best leader you can be. The harsh reality is I’m going to screw up, and I am going to do it probably every single day!

(two quick examples: 1: I jokingly told someone to ‘die to himself’ that had literally died last year and 2. I called a guy (and his family) by the wrong name, made a big deal about an event I wanted him (wrong him) to go to and didn’t realize I did it until 4am this morning!) Holy foot in mouth Batman!)

So keep the feedback coming folks because I need help to know the real answer and God may use you to tell me. I want more than anything FOR you to soar. I want you to find light, love and laughter. I want you to find keys to being a better leader in every aspect of your life, just as I try to be.

Those are the 4 Ls to live by and soar by and they are coming each week along with the Friday Food for Thought I share at work. Let me know if this is truly valuable to you, but also let me know if and how I can do better.

Love you guys, and thanks for learning and soaring with me, J

Here is the (now hilariously and painfully ironic) Friday Food for Thought my co-worker thanked me for Friday:

Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results

Over the last couple of months I’ve watched a group of teammates form a team and tackle an enterprise HR project utilizing the new model and all its strengths to create a truly impactful product!

One of the most remarkable things I witnessed through my lens as a “grizzled 20 year HR veteran” is that this team leveraged all the Boeing Behaviors along the way, led by an unlikely set of guides: an early career project manager, an external consultant and a brand new team member!

Although the project required a great deal of cross functional collaboration and expertise, there was no “grizzled veteran” at the helm of this ship. Sure, they brought a few of us along for the ride and they empowered their team to get things done, but they are the ones who steered the ship into the harbor, and they did it precisely from areas of strength that, without their courage, could have been some of their most vulnerable weaknesses – they led with trust, curiosity and humility every step of the way.

To be fair, I’m deliberately not calling out the name of the specific team here because this could describe any number of HR teams I have seen over the last several months, and all of these teammates of mine are fast becoming my heroes.

In an environment rife with change, they created an environment of inclusion and trust and they helped each other learn and grow. They respected the value of the differences on the team and leveraged those to deliver results.

So today’s Food for Thought will feature some wisdom and behaviors I’ve witnessed around empowering and delegating and it will feature this “not so hypothetical but representative” team along with one of the best teachers I have ever listened to on this topic : Craig Groeschel. Much of the Food for Thought below will come from Craig, so I shared some references below to give credit where credit is due.

Food for Thought Item 1 : Be Real and Be Humble to Get Results

Let’s start by examining this team I mention and one of the primary reasons I think they succeeded:

They were REAL

They remembered that they didn’t have to know it all to be great leaders! They were themselves. They got to know each other. They took time to build rapport with one another and with new team members. They laughed and joked all along the journey and shared their fears with one another as well as their triumphs.

Why does this make a difference?

People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.

Craig Groeschel

https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-702771.jpg

Another reason they were successful was: they were humble and willing to accept that they were the guides not the hero– they assembled a team of subject matter experts and experienced people (aka some of the “grizzled veterans I mentioned) to be the team and bring their best ideas to the table:

Groeschel explains why this is so effective in this way :

We empower people through clarity and trust.

We must be clear on the what and the why, but not the how.

Trust those you empower with the how.

Clarity without trust produces fear and inaction. When you have clarity but no trust, you’re looking over shoulders and causing fear. You hold onto the things others could be doing instead. Fear can paralyze the people you’re trying to lead.

On the other end of the spectrum, trust without clarity produces work without direction. Your team members might be bought in, but they don’t know what to do. They’ll start doing things that might not be important or right. If you want to frustrate someone, give them freedom without direction. Clarity ensures that your team members’ work is aligned with your goals and mission. Your team will know that what they are doing matters. Trust is the necessary net that results in risk-taking.

When your team members have freedom to fail, they have freedom to experiment and don’t have to be perfect.

“Most leaders are trying to figure out the right strategy. The best leaders are obsessed with empowering the right people.”

“You can have control or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.”

“The best way to know if you can trust someone is to just trust them. Craig Groeschel

https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-834324.jpg

Item 1 Food for Thought Questions:

  • Do we have an ownership problem? If every idea is your idea, your team is simply executing your vision. If they are part of process and bringing their ideas to the table, your team is more likely to embrace it as their own.
  • How can you ask more questions and provide fewer answers?
  • How can you provide clarity and trust the team to get the right answer even if you think you know that answer before they do?

Food for thought Item 2: Delegate and Empower Others

Sometimes, as leaders, we think there’s no way someone could do the job as well as we can.

Is that a leader’s mindset? No!

A leader says, “Eventually, the right person will do it better than I ever could!”

Most leaders delegate tasks. The best leaders delegate authority. Craig Groeschel

Are there other, real life examples of this we can look to?

One company that does an extraordinary job empowering their employees is Zappos. They tell their employees to provide the absolute best customer service—that’s the clarity. How their employees chase that mission that is up to the employees—that’s the trust. Some Zappos employees have felt so empowered, they:

  • Physically went to a competitor’s store to buy out-of-stock shoes for a customer.
  • Sent a free pair of shoes overnight to a best man who arrived at a wedding with no dress shoes.
  • Sent a customer flowers when they found out her feet were hurting after wearing Zappos shoes.

Does extending clarity and trust mean that your team members won’t make mistakes? Of course not! But it’s better to see aggressive, Boeing-Behavior-driven mistakes than passive, safe ones.

Be a leader who takes risks because you believe in your team enough to trust them with your values.

Item 2 Food for Thought Questions:

  • What are some decisions that only you can make?
  • Name at least three tasks or decisions you will delegate immediately.
  • What are three things you are doing now that you can delegate to someone on your team?
https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-821065.jpg

Bringing it all together:

Start with yourself as a leader. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I accept that I am a leader, even if I don’t have a formal title?
  • Do I need to motivate better?
  • Does my team have the resources it needs?
  • Do the team members feel valued? Appreciated?
  • Do I really believe I’m the only one who can do things right?
  • Am I threatened by (other) good leaders?
  • What needs to change in me to better trust my team?
  • Is the culture I influence around me empowering and healthy? Does it align to Boeing’s Behaviors and Values? If not, how can I change that?

Lastly, ask yourself : How can I take all the Food for Thought questions shared in this article into next week?

  • Into 2019?

What is one thing I can do different starting next week?

I hope you find this valuable, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, and remember, if for any reason you don’t find this helpful…it is all just Food for Thought.

Resources:

Creating an empowering culture part 1

Creating an empowering culture part 2

“The strength of your organization is a reflection of who you empower and trust.” Craig Groeschel

The power of repetition : a satirical shark tale

…And now this from a white paper I found on medieval repetitive rituals – here is my take on its implications on the Baby Shark YouTube viral phenomenon Baby shark doo doo doo doo do do …… (repeat x infinity)

“Appearances can be deceptive; and medieval ritual practices are in this respect no exception. (Is this why watching baby shark for the billionth time feels like medieval torture?) They perform stability through the codification of repetitive modes of behaviour and simultaneously admit flexibility in their integration of newer forms of representation. ( is this why there are no less than one trillion versions of baby shark?) They mask the historical contingencies of their own creation and construct alternative narratives of authority and continuity. ( is this why our small children pay way more attention to baby shark than any of our commands or wishes?) They do not simply appear; their appearance reflects the mutual interplay of construction and modification.” (Is this why we can’t find the originator to track him down and subject him to aforementioned medieval torture – is it possible that it did not simply appear but rather organically evolved from our shared desire to pacify our small children?)

Discuss.

The Payoff and Price of Flourishing

My brother in law and I were joking about my relationship with my kids over the holiday break. He is the cool uncle, the fun one, the world traveler that takes them out and shows them how to have fun in the world and how to live in the moment. I am very thankful for him.  We were joking about how these now grown men, my so-called “boys,” might feel about their dad in contrast. At least I thought we were joking because (and don’t be shocked) the joking was more me being self-deprecating around being a less than stellar parent in the fun department.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as I was slamming myself, my brother in law got serious for a second and looked me in the eye. This was a bit of surprise as it was one of those “hanging around in the kitchen,” amidst a bustle of activity, in the scurry and flurry of the holiday, moments. In that split second, for me, everything got still. He said something like (and we never really recall exactly what people say- so I don’t fool myself): “John, your sons respect you, they value your opinion, and that is huge.”

That has not left my mind in the weeks since he said it. I am definitely someone who overanalyzes things anyway, but that one statement, in that moment and since, has both filled me with pride and (immediately) set me on my heels with abject humility.

When someone says things like that, our human tendency is to feel supremely validated. Yes! I did something right! I think there is some merit to that, but I also can’t help but be aware of how powerful of an influence I’ve been on my kids for good and probably some detriment over the years. We can’t help being both because we are only human. Hence, the acute need for humility. 

Recently, a similar dynamic has happened at work. A few times a week, I will receive some feedback about how well thought of me and my work partner are in the work world. We’ve done some pretty cool stuff, but neither of us did it alone. Nonetheless, this dynamic of kudos persists. It struck me this morning that the same thing also happens in my church community a good bit. It also happens on social media occasionally. My friends and family will say similar things…. you get the picture (sorry if this makes you nauseous, there is a point, I promise 🙂 ).

Although these worlds are varied, I try my best to be the same person in each and I find the theme is prevalent throughout. I think what all this means is – I am flourishing? Wow! That sounds so pompous to say in my head let alone write it in a blog, and I know that is the last thing someone who isn’t flourishing wants to hear from someone like me because I wasn’t born flourishing. (At least I didn’t know I was born flourishing, because I didn’t understand who God was back then nor even as recently as ten years ago when, by all accounts, I had begun flourishing in many of the ways the outside world views flourishing. )

This all came together about 4 am one morning as the term flourishing or the feeling of flourishing was really on my mind along with this pervasive pinging on my heart around humility. I couldn’t sleep, so I was listening to a podcast with Ed Stetzer and Carey Nieuwhof and Ed quoted a guy named Andy Crouch- and what he said acted as a crucible for all these thoughts and emotions in that instant:

Why is power a gift? Because power is for flourishing. When power is used well, people and the whole cosmos come more alive to what they were meant to be. And flourishing is the test of power. Andy Crouch

Just like that moment in the kitchen, I was humbled and taken to my knees by the fact that it is exactly and precisely when we are flourishing that we have to be the most careful and the most grateful! To be more precise, it is ok to be thankful and grateful in the flourishing as long as we have the right posture about it. Yet, we don’t get to bask in the hot tub of gratitude or take a “well earned” victory lap for very long. Unfortunately, to quote a less austere, but equally awesome dude: Stan Lee:

With great power comes great responsibility.

I find the joy of flourishing and the heart of gratitude to be a positive and overwhelming set of emotions, but the brain and the devil will constantly try to deceive you into thinking you did all this without any help when the reality is the exact opposite.

Flourishing is a test of power and we must never forget that. In fact, I would edit this to say flourishing is a relentless test of power. The test is how you use that power. The test is ongoing. The test is how you show up in the world. In the flourishing, I catch myself growing a bit bolder, which can be a good thing until I let my arrogance creep in – I have to go back to a place of humility.

This is most evident when I catch myself wielding influence in new and varied ways to help other people flourish or give them some relief from stress or pain, but then (often unaware) neglect to give them my time or get too busy for them or give them the wrong advice and counsel. One of the hardest parts of this realization is that the more I flourish,  the stronger the influence, the sting of hurt to those looking to me is that much greater.

So what can you do with this information? I didn’t write this post to brag about my flourishing, I have probably done that enough in so many subtle and not so subtle ways on my social media feeds I have sickened people (Insert nervous laughter here.)

What can you do? If you are not flourishing, let me first say I am sorry if this hurts to read about someone else doing so. First, please know that blog posts are like a lot of other media and artistic license always paints a rosier, Instagram version of reality and my flourishing is probably not all it is cracked up to be in many ways. Second, I submit to you that comparison is a joy killer and a trap. If you are a believer, one of the most beautiful things about God is that he will heal you if you let him and free you from that trap.

What can you do if you are flourishing to avoid all the pitfalls and truly use the power you have been given? That is my question to you. I fully realize your answer may not be my answer.

Here is my answer:

  • wear your curiosity and humility about you at all times like a seat belt.
  • Serve others abundantly.
  • Talk to God about the not so shining moments you have while flourishing.
  • Have a strong person or set of persons in your life that will bring you back to reality in a moments notice.
  • Lastly, wield your power with gentle grace and loving intent to help as many people flourish as you can.

Flourishing is not a solo sport, it is best done as a team, and the bigger the team the better.

Donald Miller says this much better than I do, so I point you to this quote as you (and I) consider the best way to flourish. 

Those who realize the epic story of life is not about them but actually about the people around them somehow win in the end. Its counterintuitive, but its true. In fact leaders who think the story of life is all about them may achieve temporary successes but are usually remembered in history’s narrative as a villian. 

Grow in unpredictable ways

As I walk my dogs each day I am struck by the beautiful oaks my neighborhood offers as majestic diversions along the roadway. One such oak must have had an interesting history because it has somehow found its balance much like a waiter with an outstretched arm holding a platter?

I sought to capture a photo to give you a feel for what I am talking about but I am afraid that my lack of photographic skills combined with the pre-dawn light and haze of my morning walk have conspired against me. It will have to suffice that the way this tree has found its balance is to become wider than it is tall. Its outstretched branches seem to grow perpendicular to the trunk to the left and most remarkably to the right like some sort of wooded scale.

As the dogs and I wonder at this creation on our walks, they are thinking of nothing more than how cool it would be to sniff and do unseemly things to that trunk, while I am pondering deeper things. I am wondering :

How unlikely and unpredictable the growth pattern of that tree is?
What pressures must have been exerted on it to force it to grow in such a way?
How similar is this tree to me and to you?

Much like the mighty oak tree in our story, we have pressures on us as we grow. Each passing year forces us to stretch in unpredictable ways. Our experiences shape us. Our genetics shape us. If you are a believer like me, you also believe that God shapes and molds us.

How do we respond? I think we can take a lesson from the tree. As we look ahead and face new pressures, we should adjust and grow, shaped by our experiences, simultaneously moving in the path truest to how we were created to be. The key is the balance. Like our broad-leaved friend, we need to seek stability along the way.

We must also remember that we can’t grow without:

light (Light/God/something bigger than us) 
water (other people who we can pour into and who can pour into us) 

and

rich soil (Faith/community/tradition that provides a foundation 
and nourishing environment for us to grow in)

When we recognize that we need more than our own will and desire to grow, we remain humble, understanding nothing is accomplished solely on our own.

The final and perhaps best part of this analogy is, as we grow, much like the waiter with his outstretched arm in the opening paragraph, we can use that growth to serve others.

If we serve as we grow, remaining balanced and humble along the way, we will find that we grow in fantastic and unpredictable directions.

Thank you for an incredible 2018

Thank you for following us and supporting us in this, our first full year of blogging!

We enjoyed bringing you stories, quotes and memes around the :

4 Ls to Live by and Soar by :

Light | Love | Leadership | Laughter

#Abundance

I follow this guy on Instagram who posts quotes the way I often do. He issued a challenge the other day to sum up my 2018 in one word. The first word that came to mind was blessed. I thought about sharing that word because it fits so perfectly and then I challenged myself to come up with another word. This all happened in a matter of seconds of course, but the next word that came to mind, was the one I used :

Abundance


From the moment I hit “done” on the keyboard of my phone, I’ve been dissecting why I chose that word. Again, blessed was the first word that came to mind and that was the more appropriate word, because I believe everything I am and everything in my life is thanks to a Heavenly Father that loves me and put things in motion billions of years ago that allows us to play a part in a story beyond the size and scope of our imaginations, for this one infinitesimal blip in time. I believe that the same Father uses all these blips in time we call “lifetimes” to bring light to the world. I believe He sent one very special Light into the world a couple of thousand years ago to better show us how that ought to be done, because, frankly, without a more explicit roadmap, we were really bungling the whole thing up.

I know not everyone reading this believes the way I do. I didn’t use to believe it either. It wasn’t so very long ago, probably less than a decade ago, that I thought that people, like me, who believed what I just wrote about were….well not very bright. I thought and said they were naive. I thought and said they were simple and malleable, sheeplike in their wonder and submission. I now believe I was wrong. However, if you are reading this, and you still feel that way, I’m not going to try and convince you are wrong. That’s not my job. My job is to live my life in such a way that you have another blip of evidence that it might be true, and I try my best to do that. I screw it up on a minute to minute basis, but I try my best.

I can’t convince or convict you, but I can share with the hope of sparking your curiousity, so that is the intent of the rest of this posting, just a bit of sharing. When I first started trying this whole “faith” thing out, I thought it was going to be hard. If I’m honest, sometimes it is, but not really in the way I thought? You see the trick that this God guy pulls on you is a pretty clever one and that brings us back to the word I chose- Abundance. What I’ve learned since trying this whole thing on around attempting to live my life (imperfectly) in the way Jesus taught us to live, is that no matter how much I give, how much I serve and how much I do, I can’t out-give, out-serve and out-do God. The more I pour into my community, my family, my job; the more I lean into being who He created me to be- the more abundance I get?! It is the most remarkable thing I have ever seen! There are other people I know who feel the way I do and we, literally, sit around and talk about this sometimes, remarking to one another about just how strange it is?

I feel compelled to remind you that before I took a step on this path, I never would have believed any of this. I would have looked to some biobehavioral and/or anthropological self-fulfilling prophecy borne explanation of this. I’m sorry folks, I am still a skeptic, with a strong grasp of both psychology and selfish gene-driven motivations, but those explanations barely scratch the surface of what I’m talking about here. I wish I could describe it better, but I do finally understand how frustrating it is for people of faith to describe the mystery of their faith to others who don’t yet possess it. So, again, it is not my job to convince you, but it is my job to try and share. It is my job to be a blip that makes some noise about this in the hopes that the cumulative effect of my blip with other blips, over time, brings about a change. One might say I can try to be the change we want to see and be in the world to steal ironically and shamelessly from the secular positive affirmation universe (who may have stolen it themselves from the “be salt an light” crowd I hang with these days.)

As I write this it is Christmas Eve 2018 and we are about to celebrate the arrival of the Ultimate Example Blip that was sent into the world, for just one lifetime, to show us what Abundance and Blessing really means. If you follow Him, you get that it isn’t about things, you get that it isn’t about a zero-sum game of who can achieve more, give more, get more, do more. You get that it isn’t about feeling spiritual or magical or believing that the supernatural makes science and the natural world mute.

If you follow Him, you understand that it is about magnification and multiplication and clarity. It is about taking what is good and making it better, it is about taking all the “feels,” tastes, sights, sounds and smells in your life and making them more. It is about finding bounty everywhere you look and everywhere you go. It is about being confronted with wonder and awe, relishing that there are some things we can’t know. It is about people learning that they are not meant to live alone, or hurt or impoverished materially or spiritually. It is about the abundance found in living our respective blips of a lifetime as if these three things were as essential to living as the very breath in our lungs:

We Need God

We Need Each Other

The World Needs Us

I was blessed to find some people who taught me about this. They didn’t talk me into it. I didn’t read a book or pamphlet and then have an a-ha moment. I saw them living this life of abundance and I found myself oddly drawn to it. I took one step, then another, reluctantly making my way to the edge of the faith until I was over the other side and realized I believed. If I could give every one of you reading this (and those that aren’t reading this-as there are oh so many more of them 🙂 ) a Christmas gift it would be to spend one moment feeling the awe and wonder some of us feel when we are discussing this “abundance conundrum.” It would be the second best gift I could give you because only you can ask for the First Best Gift.

Only God can give you that First Best Gift, but all He wants is for you to ask. So I can’t give it to you but I can promise you this, if you ask, you’ll receive:

Abundance

Flocking around the Christmas Tree

So we bought this thing called a “flocked tree” and I was thinking…someday I would love to Meet the Flockers. Who are these people that put flock – some sort of glue like substance that mimics snow- on the trees? I decided to build a set of questions to ask about these mysterious creatures and the practice of flocking, should I ever get the opportunity:

  • Do you call a group of them a flock?

  • Do they toil, tirelessly, working day and night, i.e. do they flock around the clock?

  • If stores are sold out of these trees, does that mean people were flocking to buy them?

  • If they run out of material does that mean the flock was out of stock?

  • When the flockers leave work, do they have to flock out?

  • What about the security of their factory, do they have to lock the flock?

  • If I got a chance I’d like to ask them all kinds of other things about flock that I can’t post on here because of… well let’s just say I take no responsibility for other people’s flocking related imaginations.

What is the four in Four4Soaring?

An open hand

Read the full Story on Medium

“John, when your hand is open you can give things away and at the same time make room for more.”

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