Journal entry 123010: Taking advantage

This in-between week is a soft time of the year for me - after the rush of Christmas and before the New Year beginning. I try hard not to waste it.

It should come as no surprise that I’m a goal-setter and a list-maker. I like to write my goals on paper in a list so I can check them off. When working with daily goals or weekend projects, I even draw little boxes beside each item so I have a place to put my checkmark. It’s one of my best qualities, and something I like about myself.

However, some of my goals have been on my list for so long they aren’t really goals at all, but minimal expectations. I don’t mean the ones that I’ve never accomplished, like weigh 175#, but the ones I do year after year after year. Such as reading a lot of books, or reading through the Bible, or working out every day …

Here are some of my thoughts concerning the year 2011. These aren’t exactly goals, yet, but they are the directions I am leaning. Think of them as more like guidelines.


As I move my office into my home I must take advantage of the moment and make other meaningful changes in my personal schedule and structure. A change of location shouldn’t be wasted.

I will continue to pursue reentering the engineering workforce. That shouldn’t be so difficult, in fact it should be obvious, but my desire for independence and my longing to write and publish are so strong they often trump common sense solutions. My preference would be for part-time contract engineering work so I can continue to devote serious chunks of time to writing, but I can already feel a change in my heart toward traditional employment if the opportunity arises. After all, I’ve been praying for months for God to change my heart for the next step.

I want to resurrect my use of memory verse cards when I’m running. One of the disciplines taught to me by my college friend Ray was to write Bible verses on small cards and memorize them. Later when I began running I would carry them with me and work on them, and the Word eventually wove its way into my heart. In the past years I’ve drifted away from that practice, and now I spend more time listening to podcasts when I run. I enjoy listening and I don’t want to drop it entirely, but I’d like to renew the influence of those verses in my life.

We have a lot of family photos that we used to display in our old house and most of them are still in boxes in our new garage even after living here for two years. I want to change that. The older I get the more I treasure the stories behind those photos, and they deserve better treatment. I want to find a place to put them, to remind me of how God has blessed our life, and to provide an opportunity to tell the stories.

I want to go backpacking in the Big Bend Ranch State Park before it gets too hot. I would love to hear any recommendations for a two-night base-camp type of trip.

I want to understand our TV better. One reason I don’t watch much TV is I get exhausted paging through all the channels I will never watch (home shopping, reality programs, Hollywood insider, etc.) trying to find something I want to see. Surely there is a way to hide the channels we don’t subscribe to and hide the channels we won’t watch. I just haven’t cared enough about it to engage the problem. I should do better.

I hope to accept help, even ask for help, more often. When people like me avoid letting other people help them, well, that sounds more noble that it really is, and it isn’t what living in community is all about. When Cyndi and I visited the Wittes in northern Uganda in 2005, we were appalled by the way the Karimojong people were always begging from each other, a practice guaranteed to dissolve a friendship in the United States. However, they needed each other to survive, and begging was an important part of their inter-dependence. I want to learn better communal skills from the Karimojong - not begging, necessarily, but letting other people help me.

I want to run two or three marathons, and at least one 50K. And I want to work hard to lower my pace from its current death-shuffle to (at least) a respectable trot.

I should spend the money to buy a replacement motor for our drop-down movie screen. I have avoided it long enough. The odds of me inventing a better, cheaper solution have diminished to zero. It’s time to move on.

My second book should be ready for sale in January, and I am currently working on my third. I have a huge backlog of writing, and after all these years I’ve finally learned how to pull it together in book form. Now, all I need is the courage to follow through.

I will be more aggressive inviting people to subscribe to my (free) weekly Journal Entries, and in marketing books and seeking opportunities to speak to groups. Writing and teaching are gifts I must follow with more intention if I am to prove faithful to the God who gave them to me.


So this is my recommendation to you. Understand that unexpected change should be seen as an opportunity rather than a burden. I used to believe that incremental changes were best, and often they are, but I am beginning to see the value of clumping my changes, especially with respect to personal disciplines and habits. Making a lot of changes at once creates energy and stirs up courage.

Take advantage of these soft times of the year when heart and mind are open to ideas. The rest of the time we live too rushed and too crowded to entertain new thoughts. Start your list now, and join me as we lean into 2011.


(Send a copy of your goals/leanings/guidelines to me. Maybe we can help each other. I would value any advice regarding my own list.)


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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