10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: worry.


"What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted."


We wake to find what we don’t have, what we wished for not waiting dream-freed in existence.  What to do, or say about what to think now?

We keep checking and there never seems to be enough, and so, worry becomes us.  In fact, the average person invests hours worrying about a variety of circumstances - finances, relationships, career, health, future, past, decisions made and to be made, etc.  Worry is a response to life uncontrollable or unavoidable.  Sometimes we are the cause for worry in life painted with our mistakes or irresponsibility, and figure we should do better; worry binds itself to our movements and decisions.  Other times, worry elevates in our hearts as life swings unyieldingly and the outcome seems all but favorable.

At some point along your way in life, you will worry your brains out and fret for hours, maybe even days piled on top of days, and your viewpoint will cloud a grayer hue as worry shrouds possibility of good and better.

While worry is certainly unavoidable, the holding to worry absolutely is.  Here’s something telling to consider: what is your initial reaction to adversity, large or small?

In honesty, my response echoes a hollow, worry.  There are times in my life when worry jumps from my heart.  In those times, I don’t think well.  My thoughts anemic to trust.  And so, worry leaves me floating neither in the here nor there, but somewhere in the vague middle, clothed in fear and undone in anxiety.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

No matter how you make your way through life, what you do or don’t do, the opportunities you seize and the ones you let lie, all is vanity, worthless.  Years from now, no one will remember you or much of what you did, if even anything at all.  A common mistake made by those sunk in worry is the idea that life depends on effort birthed from our hearts and resolve.  That’s just not the case.  No matter the size of the life you build, it is all vanity.

We reach for what cannot be had by our own hand while seeing past simplicity.

I worry about making it to successful to appease my value and worth in this space of life I’m in.  I couldn’t possibly keep accurate count of how many hours I’ve stayed up sleepless, worrying about how my book will be received, what I will write next and if it will even matter.  Compound this worry about my career with the worry I invest in regarding my daughters and who they will soon be in life, and I span periods of months when I worry with more consistency than anything else.  One day, it simply will not matter in the grand scheme of things.

Life moves on; we must decide if we will live it or worryingly watch it pass by.

What’s larger and more founded than the fading details of our lives in years to come is right now.  If you are to quiet worry’s ringing and overcome it’s weight, you need to devalue your footprint in this life and cling to what really does have lasting weight.

Eternity will forever overshadow time, no matter its steep drops and treacherous, momentary climbs.  That is what the wisest king to grace this life, referenced as the Preacher, found at the ends of the Earth - all is vanity and meaningless in this life outside of God in eternity.

And so the striving and wriggling in days sinking as a boat swallowing water can be abandoned for a greater Knowledge.

In moments of worry, I must turn, not stare.  Worry is my friend when it causes me to pause and turn helpless to Christ who owns all I need.  I arm worry as my enemy when I sit and stare holding it as habit.

10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: small.

ikeasuspensionbridge Small.

I often look down when I walk.  I do the same when riding trails on my mountain bike or hiking wooded paths.  This is not good practice and does little to keep me aware of all around and ahead of me.

My concern paints the world small and keeps my eyes gazing down at the day known.  The trouble with living this way lies in much of life peripheral being threatened by my thin awareness.

If I only train myself to see now, tomorrow stays hushed and faded in hopes and dreams that remain foreign in the unseen distance just ahead and around me.

When all we see is 'smalled' to now, our effort, too, slows to the shape of what we see.  So if we are cornered by disappointment and let downs, possibility of things better and life bigger seem to belong to others reaching for more.

The future belongs to those able to see beyond now.  It is then that life isn't mastered by moments but always vibrant, even through swelling waves tossing unfavorable.

Seeing life further requires recognizing life bigger than now.

In a word, faith.

Now here's where faith gets a bit twisted: faith isn't indestructible belief that blooms from a strong heart.  Faith is the humble confession of those broken by life and unresolved by the realization that you cannot possibly do it in your own.  So we bow in the smallness of who we are and trust for more; we never stay in the smallness.

God dwells all around and outside of the small.  He is forever beyond limitations felt in small moments able to lift you to the broad expanse of all ahead and beyond now.

Otherwise, your eyes are trained to look inwardly to your heart and ambition and effort - small becomes your outlook.  That's when life shrinks around the immediacy of now and left to be counted good in easy times and bad in difficulty.

Proverbs 3 gives sound advice that you should paint on the walls of your heart and ring in your confession.  Our response to life high and low should be full trust in God, who adequately authors the story of who you are.  We fully trust in rejecting self reliance and holding to God's bigger in our lives.

After all, the story belongs to the author, not the character.


(*image credit:

the loss of effective parenting.

I see their smiles now easy and free.  Peace quiets worry at this sight. And joy fills my heart in the deep of night.

Most days lived under our shared roof sprawl out without much difficulty.  Comfort and security exists again.  I remember the days burning hot and dry when we lived a million miles from one another exiled to our own island on fire.  How unending those days felt!  How unrelenting those waves beat against our shore while offering no respite.

The days, weeks and months following their mother's death, my wife then, will forever be immortalized as a graceful metamorphosis on the timeline of our family, the grand redesign of us now, then and ahead.  For nearly 3 years now, we have been learning life again, finding joy in mundane free from extraordinary ordeal.  Finding joy in day unfolding with boring, unassuming regularity; that’s how you know your heart is beating alive and not a shell of yesteryear.

To be clear, happiness is what we pull from the sky, the smiles we try to wear as long as we can bare, but joy finds us as the sky falls to find us.

Joy swells in white flags waving and in the end of the pursuit of happiness.  It glimmers rebelliously amidst darker days blanketed by fear, worry, doubt and is the praise of screw ups who know better than to trust the feeble strength of their own hand.

The light in each of their eyes dims, their faces hang in heavier moments, and I’m reminded again close to my chest I have no guarantees.  Nothing promised apart from the breath drawn right now; not even the next day as I once believed.

Belief, that’s all we have and the only choice ever really needed to be made.

And that’s what fuels joy: belief.

The folly of the proud is self-reliance, but the triumph of the humble is joy despite all things, anything, independent of day, night, struggle, ease and especially fairness.

Maybe you’re like me in that I worry often as a parent.  I push hard into most days and try to squeeze as much as I can out of it because there are no absolutes or guarantees that my effort put into my children will produce well - adjusted, loving people whose hearts belong to God and affections to the life given soon to them.  I know as many parents who do everything as right as one can do who sit up late at night wondering what went wrong as the others who stumbled about aimlessly trampling inconsistently in selfish and ignorant circles whose kids end up running an honorable bid for sainthood.

There are simply no guarantees in life as there are in parenting.  “Train up a child in the way he should go”* . . . and he may in fact stray.  He may return one day to God’s grace and goodness, but maybe he won’t.  No one saves, save for God.  That’s why we must only believe.

Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."**

And so in our quest and effort as parents, we must courageously believe in God’s love and plan more than our pocketed strategies and parenting techniques said to tame the heart of the unruliest, liveliest little child.  For when we trust in God’s ability in their lives and despite our parenting, we transcend human effort of dust trying to cover dust and allow Eternity to shape, form and guide into all ahead.

As a dad to three little beautiful girls, my heart winces a little more with each increasingly complex conversation.  I do good in my own effort as their dad, but soon we’ll travel hand in hand to an impasse where my foot will slip and my hand not able to hold.

Right there my heart better be ready to let go and grab hold of God’s grace and ability.  Right then, my heart must be able to believe or all that I’ve done is try diligently to look capable for as long as I could until my hand could hold no longer.


“The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done.  Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.” -Martin Luther

Believe in the future already owned by the One who purchased a day unable to be bought by impoverished hearts.  Be free.  Belong.  Trust.


image found @  ||  *Proverbs 22:6  ||  **John 6:28-29


A Deeper Family :: tipping the scale.

The day never holds enough minutes and moments. It never seems enough; the effort given, the time split, the little sacrifices made here and there, the want for more quality time, all feel like sand slipping through fingers.


It always moves faster than we think in the moment.  One day we are holding a tiny newborn nearly too nervous to even move with them in arm.  The next we find ourselves chasing them as they pedal their bike down the sidewalk and reviewing rules when readying them for sleepovers at friends’ houses.  And before we have time to be fully ready, they will be driving themselves around, shaving their faces or their legs, or both and be talking of college, career, dreams or even marriage.

Time doesn’t wait, not for you to learn how to get parenting and family right nor for you to grow unselfish enough to see or catch up to opportunities fleeting.  Like sand sliding through the skinny of an hour glass, time is constantly going.  And so are the days with it.

I had this terrible thought recently.  I only have about 8 years until my oldest daughter moves into the world off to college or work, chasing dreams and meeting love.

Continue reading my new post at A Deeper Family...

in a moment much too big.

“We are not now that strength which in old daysMoved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.” from “Ulysses” (Tennyson)


In moments heavy, thinning in the heat of an everlasting day, when I’m not quite sure my heart has clarity to see and feet the fortitude to move another eternal inch, an error clouds thought every time.  I slow to a crawl, forget what got me this far and act like a child or alien to difficulty.  As if this particular time, in all its weighted glory, is the first time my heart feels strain, beats quicker and shallower in the face of difficult circumstance.  I doubt ability, lose sight of tomorrow and beyond and shrink to the size of the moment ...or smaller.

Gone are any traces of faith or courage, valor or bravery, displaced and decayed by worry, fear and everything wrong.

My mistake is to value trust as an option.  Trust is never an option.  That is, it should never be reduced to only an option.

Maybe you’re like me in that trust is yet to mature beyond the grasp of circumstance.  If so, I’d imagine you, too, wrestle with not trusting enough, often responding in difficulty with a heart bent toward doubt and uncertainty.

At any given moment straining, doubt could certainly be seen as a much higher value in my life.  Because they remain opposing options, to trust or to doubt, the one with the higher value, the one that makes more sense and seems inevitable, wins.

Perhaps trust needs no measuring at all.

Maybe trust does not need to be matured to any certain size, but constantly present in the heat of a day burning out of control just as in the cooling calm of an afternoon breeze whispering comfort.

Time and circumstance will weaken you.  You will fall.  You will fail.

Strength comes to those who allow the slightest bit of trust to mix into doubt clouding.  From their knees they rise again standing in a moment much too big.  Where they have failed, they are found.

All we can ever really do is trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 :: To trust God with all of your heart requires nothing more than the confession that you are not enough; not your actions, nor your ability or heart.

No moment is ever too big for a heart abandoned to trusting God fully.

they won't go looking.

“Oh, wow...  You have three daughters?!!  Dad, you better get your shotgun ready!”

Lots of vulnerabilities exist in my effort to father my three little girls as a single parent.  Little things may fall through the cracks here and there like hair and nails and most fashion related decisions, but one thing I am invariably good at is trust. I feel as though I’m a pro when it comes to adventure in their lives.  But then again, I’ve always had an uncanny ability to swoop in, sweep them off their little steadying feet and launch them into motion.  They love it.  Them momentarily suspended in air just above the ground or flying through the air and room onto the couch.  As they soar and float, even descending, a look lingers on their face.  It’s a look that affirms me.  Trust.

Without reason not to, they trust me completely.  Up until this point, I’ve given them more reason to trust than not.

It’s quite simple.  I’ve done what I said, I’d do.  And when I mess up and don’t follow through, I apologize.  I like to think of apologizing to my kids as emotional adventure taking them deeper into trust’s woods or higher and closer to trust’s summit.

Establishing and nurturing trust in a child’s heart is absolutely essential to healthy maturation.  Without trust, a child grows sideways, roots shallow, leaving them emotionally malnourished.

Think of it plainly in this way::

absence of trust + unquenchable lack, never enough = they go looking

As a parent, you never have to be a pro or know all of the answers.  In fact, the feeling of inadequacy can be an invaluable commodity.  Not having all of the answers and making mistakes earns trust quicker than parenting from a pedestal.

Your primary objective in parenting should not be friendship at any cost.  It should be friendship at great cost.

It will cost great effort in values of forgiveness and love on both ends.  Placing high value and seriousness on friendship and relationship not only strengthens trust but also portrays healthy relationships in the giving and receiving.

Just as sweet as the trusting look lighting up their faces when I send them sailing through the air, the look they give sitting on the edge of their bed watching my eyes well up, holding wordless apologies before anything is spoken - that similar look that I see on their forgiving little face finds me.

Trust’s roots thrust deeper into the soil of their hearts and our relationship.

So I don’t anticipate needing to threaten some boy who has yet to earn their trust with the presence of a shotgun someday.  I will have staked claim in my daughters’ hearts long before that kid steps foot on my scene.  And I imagine (and hope), I’ll be quite fond of him because in some distinct way, he’ll resemble me.

That day, vulnerabilities won’t exist in my heart.  If they do and I’m leaning on a shotgun to establish my place, I will have missed the mark.

My father effort is full here in establishing trust so that we find all that they need together and they won’t go looking somewhere else for what they think they need.


photograph by Jim Richardson

in homage and honor.

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“Tomorrow found in today; what’s ahead discovered in days behind.”

This has become somewhat of an echoing mantra and anchoring core value in my life.  Often what we need for today and beyond lies in the path behind us.  A risk that taught us to trust more.  A failure that taught us bravery.  A mistake that taught us humility.  A hurt that taught us to bleed.  A loneliness that taught us to find.  A darkness that taught us courage.  A victory that taught us to win.

Whatever those steps pressed into the ground of yesterday hold, above all, they hold life and answers and path.

The writing of my book gave perfect opportunity to look back, gaze upon the burning heap of dreams behind ...look ...want ...hurt ...break, and mostly ...find.  Recounting pieces of my past floating, stretching further apart on life pulling like the tide and swelling waves, has, in a way, been the greatest happening.  Many days I felt like a scavenger walking through barren lands once rich and fertile, now hollow and uninhabited.  And then, I would stumble upon deep wells of remembrance whispering words I couldn’t understand but laced with promise and passage finding penetrating way into the chambers of my heart.

Losing my wife, a woman whom I loved indescribably, did nothing less than change me completely.

Life turned unexpectedly and unforgivably.  I stopped lost in tracks.  The steps behind me began to guide me with each faith-filled, God following, narrowly trusting, grace infusing step into the unknown.

Future bowing to past in homage and honor.  My eyes learned new, the value of unknown and how to choose.

Here’s an excerpt central to my story from a chapter currently entitled, “Surely Goodness and Mercy.”:

I saw a man alone, subdued by pain, frightened by the fear of all that may be some day, and I quietly asked to never be that man.  I can't.  I won't.  The man fumbling through fading memories like a thief holding a leaking bag, the man stumbling drunk on why things settled they way they did, talking to himself, mumbling angrily and hurt.  That will not be me.

My daughters will not know him.  They might see me wince and wrestle to the ground... But they will never know a hollowed heart comfortable only in shadows.  I may not have much greater to give them than that but it will be an echo that resounds like bells of freedom in their warm little hearts.  Always.  I pray.

I will not allow myself to be the man hollowed by pain, afraid of shadows and those things which lie in waiting. Life may indeed only seem to take from us, days, memories, happiness, but courage is mine to give. And the source, it is immeasurably and unfathomably deep. It is unending. Through darkened spots and failing strength, the reason for courage remains.

For months following her death, I only prayed for God to piece back together the life I was forced from.  So little did I know and perceive the beauty of his bridge building redemptive ability lies within the thinnest, most inescapable steps when I am invited to only follow and not need bearing or direction or understanding.

Each day, a decision. Choose wisely.  Trust ridiculously.  Step faithfully.

... A day forsaken is a day forgotten. So many want only to escape.