Friday, September 27, 2019

New Beginnings, a little bit late

I have been remiss in updating things and there is a lot to update because there have been some big changes. The flurry of activity, decisions and work that come with change tend to shove lesser priorities to the back burner.
If you are unaware, the "word" for the year that God gave me was 'Grace through Failure'. I knew that meant God was going to give me a lot of practice in failure so I have nicknamed this year my year of fail. What it really means is that I have a lot to learn this year. No one knows all things right off the bat, understands everything once presented with an outline of information or perfectly recalls everything, every time. Or, at least I don't. I hate failing though. I hate not knowing how to do things perfectly. I love knowing things because it makes me feel smart and therefore valuable. I hate learning. Or more accurately, I hate feeling dumb. That's why God asked me to work on viewing the learning process differently this year. To work on being gracious with myself and others when they are learning. To view my lack of knowledge with humility and endurance.
Why is all that important. Because I was wrong about something. I thought God was poising me to start a YouTube channel to go with my blog, Dotted Lines: The Treasure Hunt to Find God in my Every Day. I was learning to be more effective on social media, how to build a brand, how to edit more efficiently, how to create content and how to build a support network. Everything I didn't understand right away was viewed in light of the learning process and I gave myself the permission to take my time to learn. My goal wasn't to be successful right away but to build.
What God was building used the same path but had a completely different destination. I look back now on my year and see the path. It's stretches beyond this year. Sign posts reach back decades, showing me where God has laid the way for me. I don't think I have ever before in my life been able to look back and see God's preparation so clearly. It's breathtaking and awe inspiring.
What am I talking about? I have become the COO, Producer and Social Media Marketing Manager for Iconic Production. It's new and I am growing in it, with it and through it. We are building it from the ground up and there are a great many things to learn. Iconic Production makes videos and podcasts for the role-playing and gaming community. It's a huge step for me and I am so please and excited to be a part of helping the company grow.
In the next few months I will be sharing my progress as we create and build Iconic Production. In the mean time, feel free to ask me questions.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Shameless Self Promotion

If you couldn't tell by my long silence...I've stopped trying to promote myself, my blog or my website.  Life is only full of so many moments and in an effort to:

  1. Do what the Lord is calling me to
  2. Maintain balance between real people/relationships and tasks
I have been busy.  The Lord opened up opportunities I did not expect.  I am currently the COO and Social Media Marketing Manager and Producer for Iconic Production.  Don't worry, you'll hear about them later.

That means that the time and effort I put into planning, researching, editing, content creation and writing this blog for myself is over.  I'm proud of what I accomplished and I certainly learned a lot which I'm going to use for my new job.  

I'm still going to write but I'm going to commit the unforgivable faux pa of treating this more like a journal than a planned and cultivated blog.  This is going to be the raw me, not looking for followers or influence.  I'm just going to talk.  

As promised...Iconic Production is a TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Game) video and content creation company.  We play games and produce podcasts, livestreams and videos.  We currently stream live on Twitch.tv/iconicproduction.  We also have presence on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Mostly, my channels and socials are silent because I'm talking for the company instead.  

That's all I have time for today.  I'll be back.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Which Way Did I Go?

I have spent the last few months trying to teach myself how to start a successful YouTube channel. I had the idea, the concept, the plan.  I spent a great deal of time working on it.  Where is this YouTube channel you ask?  Well, no where.

I thought that was what God was telling me to do.  I thought it was clear that I was supposed to be working on learning video production.  I was.  Just not for me.  More on this later.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Selfie Point of View

I recently saw myself in some photos taken by a friend. It was a hard experience for me in a couple ways but the first thing I noticed was how large I was compared to my friend. I noticed my chinneck in all it's glory. The most startling revelation to me was how surprised I was that I looked that way through the lens of a camera.
I've gotten pretty good at taking selfie's. I know what my physical "flaws" are and know how to angel the camera to hide those things. I had apparently gotten so good at it that I had some how convinced myself that the ideal version I imaged myself as, was the truth. It reminded me of a couple of pictures I took while I was with my mother at the zoo. We were talking about the art of the selfie and so I took the two photos below and handed the camera to my mother.
"When did you take these?" she asked me.
"Just now. Both of them."
She looked at me with shock. There are no filters on these photos, and I wasn't trying real hard, because it was meant as a quick demonstration of what a slight angel change can do.
This revelation was more than an insight into our perceptions on appearance. It highlighted my natural tendency to forget my flaws through self deception. Our physical flaws are easy to mitigate with makeup, constricting undergarments, camera angels and various other efforts. Our internal flaws are sometimes easier to hide. Especially from ourselves. The human capacity for forgetting is a double edged sword to be sure. Just like my ability to adjust my actions and habits to hide my physical flaws, I do the same with my internal ones.
James 1: 23-27 ESV
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Lie's, no matter what they are about, thrive in hiding, in forgetting. Not only is the passage in James a reminder that our focus should, first and foremost, be on God (and the Word He gave us, as it is our defense against forgetting what is true and important about life) but that we shouldn't forget. James reminds us that we are capable of great self deception and self-centeredness and gives us the answer to both. The Word of God. We hide our flaws to deceive but very rarely is that deception more effective than it is on ourselves. Abiding in God's Word and living it out is the antithesis of selfishness. This truth is so much deeper and far reaching than a simple sentence.
God uses His Word to expose the hidden. Sometimes that means sharing part of the mystery of God Himself. Sometimes that means revealing our own flaws. No matter how ugly we find them, the truth always puts them in the proper light. That doesn't mean I'm going to revel in my flaws, as our society seems to do, nor does it mean I'm going to wallow in the ugliness of them. Hiding our shame is a very old instinct. Just like Adam and Eve, God gently calls us out on our deception. Abiding in the truth of God's Word means that my flaws must be acknowledge and left in the Teacher's hands while He lifts my gaze to Him and the world around me. I'm supposed to be glorifying His name after all, not mine.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Failing Forward

I think I've failed.  It's the first day of the second month and I'm pretty sure I failed.  I expect to do that a lot this year.  Last year felt like such a success.  I learned, I prepared, I rested and I completed.  When I was praying about my resolutions for 2019 I was nervously excited for the direction God was leading.  As I was asking God what He wanted me to work on, and set as my intention, He brought those three awful words: 

Fail with Grace 

UGHHHHHH!  I do not fail gracefully.  I have a little tiny hiccup and then I give up in a huff and get depressed.  At least that's been my pattern for a very long time.  I tend to bury my head like an ostrich in the sand of my own negative self talk.  



The lessons God has planned for us are intentional, well timed and for our good.  I have been working on breaking the habit of capitulating at the first hint of difficulty for a long time.  So I know, this year is a test.  A chance for me to see my progress, practice the lessons God has taught me and develop healthier reactions.  It requires that I am keeping my head up and my thoughts aware of how I am dealing with the challenges of learning, making mistakes and stumbling over obstacles.  

Failing with grace is the act of failing forward.  It's the intention of failing without castigating myself.  The power to chose hope over despair.  

Failure has the special challenge of misdirection.  Failure is used by the enemy to shine a spotlight on our shortcomings and mistakes.  Our enemy loves to point out our failures in every aspect of our lives.  If it doesn't cause us to stop in our tracks immediately, then it certainly gets us focused on the wrong thing and walking in the wrong direction.  A failed connection with a potential friend can send you into a tailspin trying to figure out what's wrong with you and why no one likes you.  It may lead you to the conclusion that putting work into a friendship isn't worth it.  It may cause you to strike out in anger.  What those trains of thought forget is that God uses failure to shine a spotlight on what God is doing.

God is ALWAYS going to glorify His name and is working for our good, which is just a fancy way of saying God is always teaching us.  Always.

Failure often makes us feel inadequate but that feeling often leads to the false conclusion that we can't do it at all.  Whatever that "it" is for you, trying looking at your failure through God's spotlight.  Is it calling you to endure?  Teaching you how to do better?  Showing you a different way?  Calling you to a new task?  Convicting you of sin?  Reminding you to show grace, to yourself and others?  Giving you the opportunity to be a witness?

So, my goal this year is to see my failure from God's perspective and not the enemies.  Not to see my failures as the end of the road, but just another step in the learning process.  How about you?  How do you view failure?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Years Changes

We spent the last few weeks of December looking at resolutions.  Now, firmly resolved, we stare 2019 in the face and ask ourselves 'is this going to work?'  Lets set aside that fear laced question and instead look at what we are going to change.  If you didn't give yourself enough of a head start on your resolutions then you've probably been thinking about them or implementing them this week.  I've been thinking about mine a lot.

2018 was about rest.  God has been teaching and testing me in this area to remind me of the importance of obedience in rest.  The last quarter of the year was more intense in this area as God asked me to give up noise, technology and entertainment.  I spent a lot of the year wondering when it was going to be over...the rest, not the year.  Even in those moments of impatience God was teaching me how like a child I am.  The 'are we there yets' of my spiritual journey are so similar to the impatience I've seen in little ones.  God took great care to keep telling me to rest, to wait, to relax, to stop worrying, to stop being anxious and to not fret.

Near the end of December, God started to reveal what He was going to be working in 2019.  It's going to be a lot.  It's going to be a ton of learning, growing, and working.  Just thinking about it got me all worked up and ready to whip out to do lists, organizational aspiration sheets and a paper bag to breath into.  Okay, maybe not that last one.  I like being busy.  God taught me a lot in 2018 about where I find my value.  I know I was finding my worth and value in what I could do.  Without that (ugh, rest) I had to meet with Jesus about what that meant.  Being released from rest was like lifting the first gate at the races.  I near ran into the fence in my haste.  Because God gave me a year of rest, a year of coming back to a baseline of peace, I know that my resolutions are going to have to reflect what I learned last year.  In anticipation of what I think God will do with my year, I have made some resolutions and goals based on growing towards areas that I want to see if God has given me a passion for, to remind me of what God taught me was important in 2018 and to test doors and see where God is moving.

So what does that all mean.  I'm going to be writing more and blogging less.  Dotted lines, at least for now, is going to be moving to a once a month format.  Don't worry.  I have a year or mores worth of blogs for you to go back through if you need something to read ;)  In addition, Dotted Lines is going to be starting a YouTube channel!  Why?  Well, a few reasons.  One of them being the fact that humor and sarcasm tend to read better with facial expressions and I might translate better to you, the audience, face to face as it were.  I have some exciting publishing and contest news to announce already for 2019 but I have to hold my hat a little bit.  Since submitting more articles and contest pieces is one of my resolutions, I think that bodes well for the year ;)  My final resolution is to have my priorities straight.  In other words, time with God has to come first, without limits.  My time is His and without that source I won't be able to create, stay unafraid or hold on to peace.   That's my top priority this year.  To approach the potentially frantic with the sense of peace and calm that only comes from time spent with the Prince of Peace.  It is going to be a straight up test of what I have learned in 2018 so I am praying and working hard to establish some good habits to support this resolve.

Video seems to be the direction for the year.  I am going to be doing a lot of learning in this area through multiple outlets as I serve others and work it out for myself.  It's going to be tempting to fall back on negative self talk (I hate feeling dumb and I am going to feel dumb a lot as I learn) and frantically trying to complete an ever growing to-do list.  That's why my word for 2019 is Balance. 

So what is your word for 2019?  Have you started well this week or do you need to reset?  Either way, I hope you will join me.  The mission of Dotted Lines is still to embark on the amazing adventure of searching for God in my every day.  That won't change no matter where we move!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Resolution Revolution

It's time for a resolution revolution.  It's time to take this question seriously once again.  So here we are, standing on the raggedy edge of 2018...are you ready for change?


Now that we've learned from our successes and our failures, how do we resolve to make resolutions differently?  (If you haven't read the previous two blog posts, I highly recommend starting there) I was talking to my spouse about resolutions and asked if he had made any.  His skepticism brought a pseudo sneer to his face as he admitted he hadn't because he didn't see the point.  A lot of people have relegated resolutions to the 'pointless' category.  It seems I'm not the only one to be frustrated by failure in this area.  I have talked the previous two weeks about why resolutions are valuable, so let's proceed on the assumption that they are.  How do we do things differently in 2019?  How do we set ourselves up for success? 

Forethought

I think it bears repeating that the place to start is by thinking about it in advance and resolving to check in with yourself periodically to see if you need to alter course.  Don't be flippant with your resolution. Preparation not only helps develop habits it also starts the momentum in a forward direction toward your goal.  It's about settling your mind on a new course before you settle your body into new habits.  Part of thinking about your resolution in advance is giving yourself the opportunity to manage your expectations.  I'm not talking about settling for less than, I'm talking about identifying what your expectations are and working out for yourself if your expectations are reasonable or desirable.  Forethought also gives you the ability to prepare yourself for change.  Settle your mind on the fact that this is a learning experience, not a prize you are trying to attain. 
Resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not do something; or the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter

Endurance

Resolutions are about endurance.  A large part of why resolutions are valuable is because the by product of attempting a resolution is going to be endurance.  If you are training for a marathon you may only get a quarter of a mile today (or the end of the driveway) but tomorrow, next week, next month, you will get farther.  Even if you have never completed a year long resolution doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt one at all.  Practice doesn't make perfect but it does make endurance.  Couldn't we all use a little more sticktoitiveness?  Yes!  I can't tell you how often I missed out because I gave up too early.  I can bet you have too.  If your resolutions have been a bust in the past, consider looking back and evaluating if you learned anything from the experience.  Test and see if maybe you are just a little bit better at enduring this time around as a result.  A huge part of resolve is mental.  You can go further than you think, do more than you know, because God has created something amazing.  Your mind is a stubborn, strong willed thing.  Why not use that strength for something good?  Good gifts like this from our heavenly Father can be used and abused by our flesh and the enemy but that doesn't me we shouldn't use them for fear of their misuse. 

Balance

Resolutions are never meant to consume you.  Resolutions are supposed to encourage you to reach outside of your normal sphere.  To stretch, to put forth effort.  It is not meant to encourage you to jump off a cliff.  Let's be smart about this.  If you want to make a resolution for the new year then keep balance in mind as you set your goal.  How much time do you have to commit on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?  Is your resolution about achieving a prize or about developing a habit?  Is your resolution about bragging rights or intentionality?  Is your resolution going to improve you or your situation?  Is it valuable, reasonable or beneficial?  Is it inward or outward focused?  Finally, ask yourself how you are going to monitor yourself.  Are you going to ask someone to be your mentor and accountability partner so you can meet and discuss where you're at once a month?  Are you going to keep a journal?  What questions are you going to ask when considering your resolution? 


Resolve to think about your resolution differently

Lets do something different.  Let's use our resolution, our endurance, to see life differently, to push us out of our comfort zones and be an encouragement and not a condemnation.  This is not a pass or fail test, this is a journey.  You are committing to walking towards a goal.  There is no first place and loser position.  This is about opening ourselves to a different perspective.  It's about agreeing with God that we need to grow and change.  It's about acknowledge that we aren't done learning even if we're done with school.  Stop thinking of resolutions like a test and start thinking about them as a lesson.   
🕜🕝🕞🕟🕠🕢🕣🕤🕥🕦🕧💥

It's about time we did things differently, don't you think?  How is it that resolutions have become a joke we only think about once a year?  I hope this series has made you think about next years resolution but I'm also secretly hoping that it has inspired you to a little rebellion.  To rebel against the prevailing apathy towards resolve.  To fight against the powers that would take our endurance and make it a laughing matter.  It's time to storm these heights again and take back our dignity!  Will you join me?  Viva la resolution!