On Plodding

Tim Challies wrote this about Christian blogs and Christian bloggers, but I think it applies to everyone who writes for a living, and I especially loved this part.

What we’re convinced is a home run is often a single and what we’re convinced is a single is often a home rum. What I’ve learned over many years of doing this is that some of the articles I thought the weakest were the ones God used in the biggest ways. But I would never have submitted them to a ministry blog, which means readers never would have had the benefit of reading them. How many helpful and biblical articles are sitting unpublished because the writer thought they weren’t good enough? [Challies]

I have found that to be very true in my own work in my own circles, and it’s a reminder that as much as we try to plan and think about the future, it’s never exactly what we expect for it to be.

When Grain and Wine Abound

I love this from the psalmist in Psalm 4:7.

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

-Psalm 4:7

The Bible is big on feasting (which I love), which makes this an even more powerful statement than it maybe seems.

I don’t think we talk about the pleasures of food and drink in the Christian world — I think they’re very powerful and can often be idols — and because of that this verse maybe doesn’t resonate like it should.

Thoreau With Some Great Advice for 2019

I came across this in an article not even remotely about Thoreau (but kind of about Thoreau), and it flattened me.

I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. [Nieman Lab]

Having Great Warmth in Your Home

Guy Yocom of Golf Digest didn’t set out to write about homes or community or warmth, but one line in this fabulously-written piece about Johnny Miller stood out to me. It’s something I want to be said of me and my family and our home.

Johnny typically answered the door wearing jeans, a golf shirt and loafers with no socks. Once inside, his wife, Linda, frequently made tuna sandwiches. He always asked about my family. There is great warmth in his home. All kinds of amazing golf bric-a-brac littered his houses. I’d pick up a driver resting in the corner and he’d say, “That’s the one Arnold Palmer used in the 1975 Ryder Cup.” Or, “That sand wedge you’re holding, that’s the one Billy Casper used when he won the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic.” He’d waggle them while he dispensed hot takes, homespun advice and unusual views on everything. [Golf Digest]

There is great warmth in his home. 

What a line. What a thing to aspire to.

Two Great By the Book Excerpts from Michelle Obama and Ben Sasse

I usually binge read By the Book articles by NYT when I come across one, and I always find either 1. Tasty little morsels in the idea department or 2. (at worst) 2-3 new book recommendations.

First, Obama on what she likes to read.

I love books that make me laugh every now and then. It’s something I hoped to do with my memoir, “Becoming,” because even if a book takes on serious topics, I think it should still be fun to read. [NYT]

Yes!

Now Sasse on why every family should have their own canon of books.

So I want to be clear that I don’t think our “family canon” is the only canon for every American family, but I do strongly believe that every American family should be developing their own canon of books they read together and repeatedly — and moreover that we should be comparing our lists with those of our neighbors and fellow citizens, so that we might enrich one another. [NYT]

The Inspirational Words of Job

I read this this morning, and thought it was not only an encouragement but a fabulous piece of writing. It’s something we sometimes miss with Biblical writing. That not only is it God’s word, but there sometimes is incredibly inspiring — not just inspired — verbiage and textual organization.

Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

-Job 19:23-25

What I Wish I Knew (No. 1): Keep Your Accounting Organized from the Beginning

I find myself often thinking the following: Man, I wish I’d known this 10 years ago before I started trying to build this business. Somebody should write this down for the 25-year-old working on the Next Big Thing.

So here’s one that I thought of today. Keep your numbers in some sort of accounting software from the beginning. I kept a spreadsheet, and it’s been a nightmare trying to retrofit it for accounting purposes.

There are plenty of online offerings for small businesses — I now use Zipbooks — and most of them have a free version (you can switch to the paid version later on). Even if you made $82 in Year 1 (which may have been generous for me!) you should keep everything organized properly. You’ll be able to scale later and won’t spend valuable emotional and mental capital trying to get everything flipped over.

Wait, Do We Need MORE Friction?

I loved this from Ezra Klein (and I love most things from Ezra Klein, including his take on why Twitter stinks and why he doesn’t read it anymore).

But as I look around today, I find myself yearning for a bit more of the friction of yesteryear. Twitter is almost perfectly frictionless — no editors, no formatting, built for instant reaction and in-group applause — and Trump is the result. YouTube, with its recommendation algorithm automatically directing us to more extreme content, is a powerful force for radicalization. Cable news is fast, reactive, competitive, and thus sensationalistic, tribal, and conflictual.

Friction creates space in the system where judgment can intercede, where second thoughts can be had, where decisions can be made. Look at organizations with longer time lags and more editors and you get better, calmer, more considered coverage. I believe that one reason podcasts have exploded is that they carry so much friction: They’re long and messy, they often take weeks or months to produce, they’re hard to clip and share and skim — and as a result, they’re calmer, more human, more judicious, less crazy-making.

Read for Your Soul

As someone who often values quantity over quality when it comes to reading — somebody who cares more about reading 25 above average books in a year than 10 great ones — this spoke to me (and my pride).

Let me close with a caution: Beware of reading for quantity to impress anyone. Read for your soul. If we could live a thousand years, and experience a thousand relationships in the thousand times and places and cultures, perhaps we wouldn’t need books in order to (eventually) become wise. But our lives are short, and God has been merciful to give us many places, many times, many cultures, and many experiences distilled into books.

Find the ones that strengthen your faith and make you want to live all-out for God. [DG]