New Beginnings

I started a project about 2 months ago that I’ve been pouring myself into day and night. I’ve probably put in 100+ hours already and I’ve barely even scratched the surface. It’s a massive project, one that requires the emotional labor necessary for any truly inspired creation. I’m unequivocally thrilled about the direction it’s headed and absolutely giddy about its endless possibilities. I’ve only showed about 5 people what the project is but the feedback I’ve received has done nothing to dampen my spirits. I’m probably going to launch in the next 25 days and just typing those words puts butterflies in my stomach.

There’s only one problem: I’m scared to death.

I have digital paralysis. Many of you will probably only see this project one time for lack of interest or lack of time or both. Some of you might enjoy it for months to come, some even years. The thing that scares me isn’t that you won’t visit, I’m ok with that, what scares me is that you WILL visit…and won’t like it.

Jen and I were talking about this the other day. The things we’re good at are often the things that scare us most.

As Marienne Williamson once wrote “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This is not a plug for my own greatness but rather a plea from us to you — go, do that which you were created to do. We already thanked you for it in our about so why are you not doing it?

The collection of reader talent here at OMP we like to think is unparalleled. One guy writes a dad blog and this couple writes DIY articles and this guy fills in the voids we miss on the whole pre-engagement thing. This girl coaches an inner-cities girls softball team in New York and this friend writes about traveling the country and this girl well, she’s one of the best writers we know.

These people are doing it, they’re shipping, they’re “manifesting the glory of God within them.”

So please…stop reading this. Go light up the world. It’s what you were made to do.

If you missed it yesterday, Jen wrote a hilarious (and serious) post about how game nights have changed our lives.

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Everything’s A Post

Running through Whole foods snatching up the cheese cubes and warm apple cider samples while Jen covers her face in embarrassment that she married a 7-year old mind in a 25-year old body? That’s a post!

Jen giggling at me because I thought a “Chi” was a type of far-eastern zen-like yoga instead of a straightening iron for women’s hair? That’s a post!

The old (and possibly semi-mentally handicapped?) man working at Michael’s asking me if my “Cowboy Baseball” t-shirt meant the Dallas Cowboys were starting a baseball team? That’s DEFINITELY a post!

We had a conversation the other day about how everything we do, say, eat, think, and dream could be a post. As our friend Lindsay puts it, you just start thinking in post.

This becomes cumbersome because every time I get home, Jen has the camera out and we take pictures of each other like each of us is a little baby doing something for the first time. But it’s also fun because thinking of posts has become like 2923x easier after doing this for 6 months than it was initially.

And it’s reminded us of this grander truth:

Each day, by the way we live, we post on the blog that is our legacy. Some days, more than others, will be great posts — helpful, relevant, creative posts that touch and inspire. Others will be abysmal. But we’re learning to look for ways to make our posts (both written and lived) more meaningful and (hopefully) helpful to those around us.

A Couple of Stats

People like to know what they’re a part of. Didn’t someone famous say that once, or am I making that up? Either way, I want to know the tribe I’m a part of, whether it’s a softball team, a small group from church, or a website me and a bunch of my friends read. I want to know those people, I want to know what they’re like, where they’re from, I want to know their stories.

So for those of you reading this blog, we thought you might want to know that too…

For the month of October, Our Marriage Project was viewed by:

2,000 different people in…
20 different countries and…
43 different states

States that viewed the most: Oklahoma | Texas | Georgia | Oregon | Missouri (4 of our faves?)
Countries that viewed the most (outside of U.S.): Australia | Canada | Palestinian Territories (promise I’m not making this up)
Most popular post: A Beautiful Mind
Most traffic from: Facebook
Blogs that referred the most (thanks!): Body Won’t Break | Letters For Lindsay | Les Joy En Vie

This is what you’re a part of. This is what we’re a part of. We thank you for it and love your presence, and, yes I’m talking to you Wyoming, even though you’re the only state to never send a human being (or spammer for that matter) our way. We still love you too.

What’s YOUR favorite state?

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Pride & Blogging & Humility

Blogging is a funny thing. It seems innocent enough: gather some thoughts, sort them out, post to the web, a few people comment, go to sleep, repeat. I suppose that’s how it should be.

When we started on this journey a mere 74-ish days ago we promised 365 days of writing our thoughts, ideas, hopes, fears, and dreams. So far a lot of that writing has been our fears and thoughts…maybe we’ll get to the ideas and dreams later on? We promised we would faithfully write no matter how many people read or what they said about what we wrote. And it seemed simple enough at the time, I mean, it’s just a silly little blog, who cares?! Surely we won’t get caught up in trivial blogging matters like readership, subscriptions, and pageviews, not us, we’re so wise.

Hah. Then people started reading and we started becoming far more worried about which posts brought the most visitors and where the most pageviews were generated. Honestly, it’s like crack (or what I imagine crack to be like)….watching the pageviews climb (see below), thinking “I am such a good writer, the internets love me! I have Jon Acuff and Carlos Whittaker in my sights, we will soon have the coolest Christian blog in the world!!”

Then I see the other side of that mountain and start thinking “I can’t believe the keys on the keyboard still move when I punch them, I am that atrocious. This blog will never be worthwhile, I’ve seen better writing on AOL instant message chats between middle school girls. Girls who have the same knowledge of apostrophe usage as I have of nuclear fission.”

So needless to say, I need to get my emotions under control. It’s good though, because this blog is teaching me that consistency is key. The mountains and valleys, they will come and they will pass but to remain even-keeled and level-headed, those are lessons that I can use, in real life, in being a husband.

CS Lewis once said: “It is through pride that the devil became the devil, pride leads to every other vice…”

I’d like to see what ‘ol Clive would have done with a blog. Probably never looked at his pageviews…

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Running Away

There’s an apparently famous woman named Twyla Tharp (I think she looks like what would happen if Abraham Piper and David Duchovny had a kid)  who once said “art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

We’ve talked a little bit on here about the reasons we don’t have TV. Honestly, most of those reasons can be consolidated to these two:

  1. We want to be dually countercultural and anti-TV (which inevitably leads to a pride/repentance/pride/repentance cycle the likes of which would make Samson blush…we’ll address this later)
  2. We fully believe that famous woman’s quote

Our home is great. It’s small, but we love it. Sometimes though it’s nice to leave, if only in our minds. The easiest way to do that (since we don’t have a “Cessna learjet” fund in our Dave Ramsey plan) is to create an adventure…to become an artist.

Art can come in any form. This blog is art. At times it could be misconstrued for a 3-year old’s finger painting, but it’s still art. Jen’s craftiness? Art. My sports blog? Art. We tell stories and make things and write words…and we do it because it feels blissfully satisfying to make something, step back, refine it, look at it, tweak it, send it off, and say “I did that.” Then we get emails that read: “you misspelled 7 words and I think your underlying theme is about as interesting as PBS at 3 AM” and we say “I did that, but I wish I hadn’t.”

We haven’t really gotten emails like that. Yet.

I write and Jen crafts because we each enjoy our respective work to the point that we get lost for hours on end in our own strokes and white-outs and strokes to cover up the white-outs. And even if nobody ever said, “hey, this isn’t boring, I actually like this” we would still come back and create some more. Or go away and create some more…whichever you prefer.

What is your favorite form of art?

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Blogging

We’ve been talking about this blog a lot lately. That sounds a lot more arrogant when I lead with it than it did when I was writing this post in my head. I should clarify, we’ve been experiencing some emotional breakdowns weight on account of our 365 day promise. Blogging is difficult. I think it’s a lot harder than writing. Brevity was never a strong characteristic of mine.

We have, in a strange sense, been challenged by the very existence of our own blog in the last few weeks. When we sit down to read blogs we like to experience something special or something creative or something insightful. In turn we want to provide that on our own blog. We want to live that so we can blog about it. It keeps us on our toes. It forces us to create more and think more and do more in real life because nobody wants to read 25 straight posts about us watching TV shows or sitting on the couch. We don’t want that to be our story either. When you blog about your life every day you start paying closer attention to what you do with your time and the wasteful moments become far more abhorrent.

[uhhh hold on…my wife just brought me one of these guys…I gotta take a quick break]

The hard part has been going out and creating a legitimate story rather than just doing random intriguing stuff because we need something to blog about. This blog has been a catalyst of a lot of the events taking place in our lives over the last few months. Let me explain: we don’t go see cool movies so we can tell you what we saw and we don’t buy new books so we can show you what we read. However, we have been choosing non-traditional methods of living, finding better hobbies, creating more thoughtful ideas, and asking harder questions about why we do what we do. We’ve been asking a lot of questions.

Without the blog, does any of that happen? I don’t know.

There’s a quote above the Oklahoma State training room in Gallagher-Iba Arena that goes like this, “if something isn’t difficult and you don’t have to work hard then you won’t care whether you win or lose.” I don’t really know what our “win” is on this blog but I know that if you’re inspired to become more like the Lord because of any single word we’ve typed on here then all the hours we’ve pumped into it are completely worth it. And if our story becomes better because of it…well, all the better.

Why are we writing this post? Mostly for ourselves. Do we think each of you should start a blog? Maybe. More than that we think you should find something that forces you to live a more thoughtful, creative story.

What is that thing for you? What forces you to live rather than to just exist?

Oh, and my tipping point for writing all this? See below:

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Letters in the Mail

My wife got a letter in the mail today. Like, a hand-written, pen and paper, genuine letter. I sat back in my chair as she cheerily tore into it and devoured its contents. Then she said something curious, “letters in the mail are so much better because you only have so much space so you have to convey your words with precision and meaning.” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what she meant.

If you’re reading this post and you’ve met me there’s roughly a 50% chance you’ve received a note or letter from me in the mail. It would have been in all capital letters (somebody forgot to turn my internal caps lock off as a kid) and I likely would have jammed my name in the bottom right corner because I hate being confined by finite white space.

Jen’s probably right though, brief is always better than rambling (kind of makes this post ironic, huh?).

Anyway, my parents always bribed us with Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books forced us as kids to write thank you notes and letters. It made me annoyed at them (maybe it still does?) but I thank them for it now because I think it’s one of the places I developed my love for writing.

This isn’t about me though (actually, technically it is since my mug is plastered all over the pages of the URL you just typed in…but whatever). It’s about the fact that letter writing is a dying art and I want to know why.

There’s something innately mysterious about seeing your name in dried ink on the front of an envelope. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like the first time you go on a date with a girl or the feeling you get when you buy a book you’ve been dying for. You don’t know what the future holds but in that moment it can be anything you can imagine.

The future of letter writing though, who knows? Where’s it going? Where’s it gone? Do we not have enough time? Do we think writing on the web is better because it is, theoretically, endless? Is it too expensive?

I want your thoughts. Best theory gets a letter from me. It’ll be short. Unlike this post.

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Artistry

Seth Godin defined art in the 21st century in this interview:

Artist and painter are two different things. You can be a poet, screenwriter, account executive, receptionist, or a school teacher and still be an artist. Art is connecting with people and giving them a gift that causes them to change in a good way.

I would add – you can be an artist as a mother or a grandfather or an uncle or a husband. You can give those around you the gifts you have been laden with. You can help other people change. In a good way.

For me, as a husband, this might mean I forgo getting on Twitter for the 293rd time in a given day to do the dishes for my wife. Or it might mean making her breakfast before I leave in the morning. Or it might mean driving her car for a few weeks so she can drive mine because it’s nicer. Or maybe it means saving up my “blow money” (this is not a cocaine reference) for a few months and buying her something she’s been wanting (like Conde Nast stock so I can resurrect Domino Magazine…she would like that a lot).

I haven’t given this a heap of creative thought so I apologize that most of these are fairly cliche forms of husband artistry…well, except the Lazarus-like comeback of Domino. I’d be a demigod in our household if I ever pulled that off.

You get the point though. I’m learning that being a leader of the home is about more than hooking up direct deposit to my bi-weekly paycheck and getting the oil changed in both cars every 3 months. It’s about weaving a tapestry of creative wonder worthy of my wife’s longing gaze. I didn’t say I was good at it or that I even do it every day. But I’m learning. One day at a time. Thread by thread on my metaphysical loom.

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Creating is Beautiful Too…

Just look at that graphic again. Study it. Let it sink in. Let it affect you.

We both got rid of TV some year and a half ago. As in, we don’t have a television in our household. This doesn’t mean we don’t watch shows (Friday Night Lights…hello?) but it does mean we’re more purposeful with the things we do watch. No mindless SportsCenter, no HGTV on in the background, we try (and fail at times) to pick documentaries and interesting movies, forums for learning. Plus it’s cheap. Plus we took the extra time and started this blog. But this isn’t a post about why not to have TV (that’ll come later) this is a post about relativity.

Look at that graphic again….

…and click on the photo attribution, if you want to be occupied for hours by an awesome website.

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Photo Attribution: Information is Beautiful