Capturing The Power In Small Moments

While in college I took part in an aptitude assessment. For two days they put problem after problem before me to see how I responded. It felt more like a game than series of tests until I reached one involving spacial awareness. The test was simple. They showed me a square block composed of several different pieces, like a puzzle. They would then have me turn around as they dissembled the block. After turning around they asked me to put it back together as they timed me. I couldn’t do it the way they wanted me to.

I kept “failing” the test because when faced with a complex problem, I broke it up into smaller ones. I made two different blocks out of the pieces and then put those two together. I couldn’t do it the other way, the “right” way, no matter how many chances they gave me.

This is how I solve complex problems, I break them up into smaller more manageable ones. I don’t try to eat a steak all in one bite, and I don’t attempt to tackle large goals or issues in one bite either. I chop them up into many smaller pieces, solve them and get to work putting them back together.

My wife and I do this as a team on a daily basis. Most divide most projects between the two of us. We split a wedding day evenly for instance. While she is capturing the bride getting ready, I’ll do the same for the guys. While she is shooting from the aisle, I am getting a different angle. While she is taking family pictures, I'm calling out names and lining up the next photo. At every moment and in every way we divide big things, like weddings, into small bite size chunks.

Chunking like this not only helps us do big projects at work, it also aids us in reaching large personal goals. No area is this more evident in my life than my reading habits. I determined to continue learning and growing the rest of my life many years ago. I read a lot as a result. I don't read with the prolific nature of Tim Challies—who reads over 100 books a year—or the determined spirit of Stephen King— who prescribes reading four to six hours a day—but, I still read more than a lot of people.

I read in the neighborhood of thirty books covering the span of the literary world each year. Some books stretch my mind, some inform my heart, and others show how stories get told. Regardless of the genre or style each page I turn helps me become whoever it is I’ll grow up to be.

The same could true for you. You don’t have to set aside hours for reading or take a speed reading course do the same feat. All you have to do is carve out small moments of focused effort.

Read in small bits here and there. I break it up into three small bite size bits. I read three pages when I wake up, three more over my lunch break, followed by three more before bed. That’s almost ten pages without breaking a sweat.

Why three pages? It’s a number so small, it’s not worth not doing. Why would I skimp on reading such a small number of pages? We look at the stack of books we want to read and chicken out before trying because it all seems too big. Three pages is a number so small in comparison, that it’s laughable not to take them on.   

The funny thing is I rarely stop at three pages per sitting. Once I’m deep in a book, there is little knowing how many pages I’ll end up turning. It varies day to day, but it’s far more than I’d read otherwise.

Monthly Mash Up (April 2017)

It is hard to believe that our little Hud is a month old. April seems to have flown by. As we continue to bask in the sheer joy of being parents for the first time, I’d like to share with you what I'm reading, pondering and enjoying.

The last Monday or Thursday of each month I peel back the layers and share the things that had the greatest impact on me in the previous month. I hope the resources I share with you are helpful and brighten your day. If you do enjoy it, pass it along to family and friends.

Verse I'm Chewing On

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! —Psalm 37:1

Todd Wagner mentioned Psalm 37 in a talk this past month. I found it such solid gold, that I’m trying to memorize the first several verses. I’ve only nailed this first verse so far, but find it the perfect reminder not to value the same things as the world. I shouldn’t look at their lives and be envious of any part of it.

What I'm Reading

  1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. - We brought our son Hudson home from the hospital, and had to figure the sleep thing out. Fast forward a month, and he slept four hours between feedings last night. I call that a win!

  2. The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl - Reality, or the way the world actually is, is the most compelling apologetic the Christian has at his disposal. It’s not a cooked up theory or tale. No, the Christian story fits and explains what we find in the real world. Greg Koukl makes this important argument in his new book The Story of Reality.

  3. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - You’ve seen the popular Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Hannah and I have watched and rewatched the entire series many times. It’s great. I decided it was time to read the source material. I’m part way through and loving it.   

  4. The Reason for God by Tim Keller - I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read this modern classic from the mind of Tim Keller. It is a fine book covering much the same ground as Koukl’s Story of Reality, only in greater details and depth.

  5. Romans 1-7 For You by Tim Keller - I’ve wanted to read this helpful resource for some time now. It was on sale for $2.99 this month so I grabbed it. I’m not too far in, but find it a helpful companion through the first half of Romans.

What I’m Listening To

  1. Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore by Chris Stapleton - I stumbled upon the greatness of Chris Stapleton this month while sifting through Spotify’s endless cache of tunes. This song touched my heart in a deep way. In it, Chris describes a father who has been a faithfully committed follower of The Lord and how his son remembers it. “I remember when times were bad,” Chris sings, “he’d thank Jesus for everything he had. A good wife and three children and food upon our plate.” My prayer is that our son will be able to remark the same about how I lead and love him.   

  2. A Life That Lost Its Focus: Saul by Ravi Zacharias - I’ve listened to Ravi for several years now, and it never gets old. He communicates truth in a manner as entertaining as it is winsome. In this four-part series, Ravi takes a look at the life of Israel’s first king, Saul.

  3. Lead Like Jesus: Leaders, Marriage and a Local Church - I’m so glad I clicked download on this bad boy! “People need to be reminded,” Samuel Johnson said, “more often than they need to be instructed.” He couldn’t have been more right. This episode was such a great reminder of the stakes in marriage, and a refresher course on why Hannah and I do what we do.

From the Internet

  1. Calling Good People “Racist” Isn’t New: the Case of Ty Cobb - Growing up I obsessed over the legends and stories surrounding Ty Cobb. Who knew so many of the things I believed about this man, turn out to be wrong. If this is the case with Cobb, who else has history cast in a light resembling little of the truth?

  2. A Quiz on the Atonement via Tim Challies - Tim published a helpful quiz on the Atonement in the weeks leading up Easter. If you’re unsure what Christians are celebrating on Easter Sunday—and every other day of their lives—it's worth your time to give it a shot. If all you want to do is measure how well you understand this important doctrine, like I did, that's ok too.

  3. A handful of people via Austin Kleon - You can’t make everyone happy, and you shouldn’t even try. Identify the small number of people whose opinion matters to you, and make your stuff for them. That’s what I’m attempting to do with this blog; write and share things that a few people might find helpful. I hope a good number of others see and enjoy it, but at its core, a smattering of people are in mind with each new post. First of which is my wife, who’s good at telling me the truth.

  4. The Income Tax Implies that Government Owns You - The 18th was national charity day, or as most of us call it—Tax Day. We send money pouring into the coffers of government this time each year. You may find this hard to believe, but it wasn’t always so. Once upon a time, American were free. They got to keep the fruits of their labor. Jeffrey Tucker presents a discussion we need to have about the fleecing of our pockets we allow every April.

  5. Why I Love To Read via Randy Alcorn - Some people play golf, while others brew beer or coffee. Those are fine hobbies that bring immense joy, but they’re not the hobbies I’ve glommed onto. Instead, I read a lot. It’s my favorite pastime. Which is why I am excited and grateful for Randy Alcorn’s article this month. It served as the perfect reminder of the all important why behind picking up books.

Welcome To 2017!

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to 2017 with excitement and eagerness. I can’t wait to see what it holds and all the Lord does.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing what has me excited about the new year, books I can’t wait to read, a little about goals, and even some advice for new and aspiring photographers. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a few posts that I hope will help you take some big steps forward this year.  

Tim Challies 2017 Christian Reading Challenge - This first caught my attention last year, and I enjoyed following along as Tim published updates throughout 2016. “Whether you are a light reader or completely obsessed, this 2017 Christian Reading Challenge is designed to help you read more and to broaden the scope of your reading.” Regardless of which camp you fall into, this challenge is a pretty awesome idea.

Do More Better Course - I took a course similar to this last year as Tim was publishing his book. This year Tim has made it even better by teaming up with the good folks at Ligonier. If you're looking to grow and improve at getting stuff done and living a life doing more good for the glory of God, this course and Tim's book by the same name, are game changers. 

Want To Be A Godly Man / Women? Here’s A Little Help - I wrote this post in answer to the question, how do I become a godly man? What I share here, is just as applicable for my female readers as it is the men and I pray that it helps you take giant leaps forward in your walk with the Lord this year.

10 Principles For Personal Productivity - We all desire to accomplish more this year, than ever before. In this short clip, John Piper shares ten principles that help him focus on the right things and get them done. “You don’t labor,” Piper says, “to get into a right relationship with God. You labor with all your might because you are in Christ.” May we keep this at the forefront of our minds this new year and as we strive to get things done.

I turned thirty this past year and took some time to reflect upon all the experiences, books and people who have shaped my journey. If you’re reaching a milestone this year or simply interested in what I learned by taking a look into my past, the links are below.

Turning 30: Three Men Who’ve Had A Profound Influence - People rub off on us every day. Some say we are the average of those we spend the most time with. I’m not sure exactly how the math works, but those we hang around impart something of themselves to us. In this post, I share how three men have impacted my life and what qualities they’ve had in common.

Turning 30: The Most Impactful Books I’ve Read - I’ve read hundreds of books over the years, yet the list of books that have truly moved the needle for me, is short. For a book to have this deep impact, so many things have to line up just right. In this post, I share which ones have had the most lasting impact on my life and some thoughts about why. These aren’t my favorite books, but simply those that have changed the path and direction of my thinking.

Turning 30: Impactful Experiences - Things happen. That’s just part of life, but often those things change you. No matter how dark or painful they may be, they make you into the person you become. In this post, I open up and share three of the most important experiences of my life.

Turning 30: Mentors From A Distance - Not every person who plays an important role in your life is someone you know personally. Their impact however, is no less meaningful than that of the people around you. In this post, I share how four men I’ve never met, shape me daily.

I’m praying that you have a remarkable 2017!

Happy New Year!