Tag Archives: story

Dear October


Three different events in three different cities. October, I will reach your end exhausted. I can guarantee it. Over the last couple of years, you & September have been a marathon – one that requires several sprints to get to the finish line.

Yet, I repeat the same marathon every year. I say yes to the same projects knowing when they take place. And I say yes because, in the end, the exhaustion is sweet. It’s an “I’ve poured out absolutely everything I’ve got & I got to do it alongside some of my favorite people on the planet” kind of exhaustion. And so, the memory is always sweet no matter how painful the road is as I’m running, some days unsure I can take another step.

I want to fast forward & slow motion your weeks all at the same time. This year that is particularly true. I am exhausted already & my heart feels pulled in one too many directions.

But, I am resolving to savor you, dear October. Savor the long lasting relationships that are woven through your days. Savor the new relationships waiting to be birthed. Savor the fact that I have a job that takes me traveling this beautiful country. Savor the opportunity to have a small part in creating experiences that will forever mark someone else’s story just as they have mine.

I sometimes wonder how I possibly have the passion to pour so much care into so many different visions. And on some levels I still wonder that. But on other levels I see they’re different missions but a common vision of a world where people are inspired to live fully alive to their life, to their calling, to their own passion and story. And that’s a vision I can support all day long…even when I’m doubled over in pain at mile 23.

On the 24th it will all be over & I’ll be wishing I could relive some of the next 24 days. For now, welcome, October. Let’s do this.


Stories that Mark Us…Reflections on Love Does

“I don’t know how to explain Bob’s love except to say it is utterly & delightfully devastating.”

I hadn’t even made it through the introduction but I knew this book was going to be one of those that becomes a landmark along my life’s journey. I kept reading. That first sitting I read a third of the book before I stopped. Then I went & wrote four pages in my journal, texted a couple of friends with encouragement, & asked a few others to answer some tough questions for me.

It was a short sentence on page 7 that really got me “I wasn’t a project; I was his friend.”


My strategic process wired brain oftentimes causes me to approach friendships like they’re projects. I truly love my friends, but I also can’t stop trying to help that grow/fix their problems/figure life out/etc. I made a resolution right then to be intentional about not approaching friendships like projects. To listen without providing answers. To spend more time encouraging than admonishing.

(The really honest truth is that I approach friendships like projects because oftentimes being able to help people figure out a problem makes me feel valuable…like I have worth in that friendship…but that’s another post for another time.)

A great story is one that causes me to reflect on my own, write my own, & live my own. Love Does left me inspired to strive to be known for more than just loving Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I want to love Jesus. But, I want to be known for loving others with everything I am because I love Jesus with everything I am. I want to live it not just say it. Practice it not just study it.

What story have you read recently that has marked your life’s journey?

What a TV Show Reminded Me About the Power of Art

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re 17 & planning for someday. And then quietly, without you really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill. I started watching the show in high school & didn’t miss an episode. I think I even owned the first couple of seasons on DVD at one point in time. Yes, I realize you may be laughing right now because, after all, to many the show is a teen soap opera. And I’ll admit, some of the story lines did indeed seem a bit overdramatic.

But, as I watched the series finale of the show this week I was close to tears. Over a fictionalized television show. And it struck me: this is why we create, this is the power of art.

The characters may be fictional, but their stories, the experiences, the heartaches, the tears, the laughter, the celebration, it’s real. Or at least grounded in reality. Because I can tell stories from my own life that would mimic them.

And on some level, I believe that is why we create – to know that we’re not alone, that we’re not crazy…to let others know they’re not alone & that they’re not crazy either. 

That is the power of art – of the stories woven into art. That TV show was more than just a story to me. It was my story…part of my story. I felt like I grew up with those characters, like I could relate to them & like we would be instant friends should we ever get the chance to have a conversation.

Art highlights those things in life which draw us together, the similarities in our stories that cross all sorts of lines drawn by the differences.

You know the other thing I noticed? The television writers didn’t have to tell me how to feel. They didn’t have to script out the meaning of the story or the lesson I was supposed to take away from it. No, they simply told the story. And the story did the talking. The story pulled me in on it’s own & let me take away from it what I would. And that is the power of art, a power that makes me feel. 

Throwback Sundays…Moments in the STORY & 100 Words

It’s a Throwback Sundays double feature today. I’m getting ready to head to Chicago tomorrow for STORY . So, I thought it’d be a good time to take a look back at these two posts I wrote about STORY 2010 & the wonderful week surrounding it. You can check them out here & here.

The 100 words post is still a favorite of mine. I love the challenge of trying to summarize an experience in words even if they usually do fall short. And those 100 words give me a starting point…I could retell the stories for hours that surround them.

It’s not too late to join us this year! You can still register here.


Story Isn’t a Strategy

I love the concept of story. I believe in the power of story and would call myself a storyteller. Story based communication is often the most powerful and has the longest lasting impact and potential to incite transformation and action. Bottom line: story is good.

However, I think we (I’m including myself in that) get dangerously close to using story as the latest “technique” or “strategy.” And I think in the process we are going to ruin it. Story is powerful because it’s relational and God designed us to be relational beings. When we turn it into a strategy or technique we strip away that relational quality.

I think we’d see a greater impact if we stopped trying so hard to tell a good story and instead we focused on simply living a good story. Because if we live a good story I think communicating in story will naturally flow out of that. I think we need to find a way to be intentional without being strategic. When we become too strategic we quickly lose focus of why we are really doing what we’re doing in the first place.

How do we do that? Short answer: I don’t know. I think I know what it looks like when I see it, but I can’t yet define how to get there. And maybe I never will…maybe it looks different for each individual/organization.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Moments in the STORY

I left Nashville last Tuesday headed to Chicago for STORY. Wednesday was set-up with the sponsors and getting last minute details ironed out. The event started on Thursday and my expectations were high, but what I actually experienced blew me away. It was truly an experience, not just a conference. Helping out with this year’s event meant I didn’t catch a lot of what happened in the auditorium but I did catch some and all of it was incredible.

I’ve been trying to find words that seem sufficient in describing the experience but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not possible and maybe that’s okay. So, I decided I would share some of my favorite moments in hopes that they paint a small picture for you of what STORY is all about.

#1 (Favorite program moment): Letting in the Light
It was late Friday afternoon, clean-up had begun, and I was racing around looking for someone to get a question answered. I stepped into the auditorium at Park to look for that person and Princess Zulu was just finishing her talk. I stopped to listen as she challenged me to think about when my story and her story would intertwine. After she prayed in her native language (one of many spoken in Africa) Sons & Daughters went into their last set. If you haven’t heard their song “All the Poor & Powerless” go to their website and check it out. A couple of minutes into the song the music swells. At that moment the curtains behind the stage in Park’s worship center opened up and light flooded the room. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it now. 500+ people singing “Shout it, Go on and tell it to the masses” with their whole hearts as we were all looking at the Chicago skyline that had just been unveiled behind the curtains…powerful!

As someone who has a passion for the visual aspects of worship it was incredible to see the power that simply opening up the windows can have…it far exceeded anything that could have been put up on a screen at that moment in time. I’ve been struggling lately with the fact that I find it hard to worship with complete abandon in corporate worship settings. That often isn’t the place where I’m moved to tears and my heart feels like it’s going to explode in awe, wonder, and worship of my God. At that moment I was worshipping with complete abandon with 500 other people and it was incredible. God was glorified.

#2: Friday Clean-Up
The volunteers that gave their time to help with STORY were incredible!
The event ended at 5:00pm on Friday afternoon. I was fully anticipating being at Park cleaning up until at least 9:00. By 6:15 we had three fourths of what needed to be done done. It’s always powerful to see a group of people united by a common vision and focus come together to make something happen and the STORY volunteers did just that! If you were one of them, THANK YOU!!

#3: Working with the STORY team
The team that Ben Arment put together for this event was stellar. Not only were they all extremely talented but we had a ton of fun working together. Sitting around dinner Friday night and sharing highlights from the week along with lots of laughs was a great moment. I am truly blessed to know each of them. At the end of the day, a team is only as good as it’s leader and I was honored to follow Ben this week. He embodies the heart of a servant leader. Check out his recap here.

Beyond the amazing program moments of STORY the people are what took it over the top. It felt a bit like a large family retreat of creatives from all over the Church. I left Chicago with deeper friendships, new friendships, and a very full heart. I also left encouraged as an artist and with a deep sense of hope for the Church. For that I am incredibly grateful.

Were you at STORY? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. – Check out the STORY photostream on Flickr to see what went down at STORY.