A time of listening, contemplation, and new!
I know…I know…it’s been a while. Six months, to be exact! When I set out on this writing journey with my Dispatch, I said that I’d write and share when it’s flowing and that I wouldn’t stress when it’s not. Simply put, when I don’t want to write, I don’t. I told myself this because years ago I found myself a bit of a slave to the system I had created. I let an artificial deadline of a weekly dispatch drive me to nearly hate writing and sharing. So, I changed my mindset so this wouldn’t happen again.
As the title of the post says, this year has been a year of listening, contemplation, and new. I have not been in a state of sharing because I really needed to be listening and processing all that God has been doing in my family and me. I’m going to share it with you in no particular order. A random smattering of topics is coming your way.
First up, I turned 49 this year. Yes, I am living in my 50th year. I do believe age is more of a mindset, but I cannot argue with my body and its lack of recovery. Last year I had knee surgery, and this year I have really challenging shoulder issues that require ongoing physical therapy. The hardest part of this for me is when my shoulder prevents me from playing tennis, which is my “getaway and stress reliever.” The good news is that I am making good progress and back on the court, but I’m just not as competitive as I would like. As I get older, I am more keenly aware how important taking care of my whole self is. Rob Bell once said, “Everything is Spiritual,” and I would completely agree. Mind, Body, Spirit, Soul…we need to take care of ALL of it. As we age, it’s critical to stretch and do strength training so that our muscles don’t grow dormant. This is an area I need to do better in.
This year has also been a big year for new! Literally all the “big” things in life have changed outside of my marriage. Robin and I are still going strong and celebrated 25 years of marriage in May. That’s a big deal! Also, I have a new(ish) role at YouVersion, we moved into a new house, and we have some new family dynamics.
Our new family dynamics are that we are entering the “empty nest” phase of life. Our youngest, Reese, graduated high school and is heading to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to start college. Robin and I are very excited about this new time in our lives. It’s not that we won’t miss Reese, but our job as parents is to launch our kids well. And we believe we have given everything we knew to give to both Reese and her older sister, Reia. In anticipation of the empty nest, we decided to downsize, which led us to a new house. We literally just moved a few miles north of our old home in Oklahoma City, and we already LOVE our neighborhood and community.
My new role at YouVersion isn’t completely new but more newish. We have been looking to expand our executive team at YouVersion, and this year we did! God blessed us with three outstanding executive leaders, and this allowed me to step out of the Chief Operations Officer role and back into a passion of mine, which is the product and technical side of YouVersion. I am back as the Chief Product Officer of YouVersion leading all product and engineering. It’s a major shift from my role as COO, but I’m so glad to be back in this seat. Robin and I had been sensing God preparing us for a change, and now we know why. A great thing to remember is that life is a journey. All things will change over time and there will be seasons that come and seasons that go. These can be hard at times, but I am allowing sadness and joy to cohabitate in each new season! I don’t know what other new seasons will come, but I trust Christ, and know His plans are good.
Our family recently visited some new countries together. For Reese’s graduation trip, we took a cruise that departed out of Barcelona, Spain. We circled the French Riviera in the Mediterranean Sea and were able to explore Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; Florence, Naples, and Pompeii, Italy. We finished off the trip by visiting the Spanish islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. It was a fantastic trip that included so many good memories and experiences. One such experience was getting tattoos. Robin opted out, but the girls and I went to the famous Meatshop Tattoo in Barcelona. Reia got a cross, Reese went with amore, and I did the heaven & earth merger.
Now for a random smattering of topics.
Music, Concerts, the Upside-Down Kingdom and All Things AI and Internet Related
Music is something I love so much, and I often tease Robin about getting back into drums and playing again. Not sure that will happen, but maybe that will show up in a new post in the future. (I’m thinking a 50th birthday gift!)
The concerts I have attended so far this year include Alter Bridge and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Both shows were fantastic! Mark Tremonti is one of my favorites, and Bruce is still The Boss! Seeing a 70+ year old dude bringing it at full steam for two and a half hours is impressive. This summer I will see Metallica, my all-time favorite band, in Dallas with my brother, and I can’t wait. Metallica launched the long anticipated album 72 Sessions that I have to say was a little disappointing. (Despite my refusal to admit that to my brother at first.) Sure, it’s Metallica, and they are amazing, but I just don’t think the album just has lived up to the anticipation.
Another all-time favorite band of mine is the Foo Fighters, and sadly, they lost drummer Tyler Hawkins to a tragic drug overdose in March. I was unsure of the future of the band, but Dave and the crew launched But Here We Are — an amazing album that is pretty emotionally heavy but also fantastic. I have to believe my love for this album was fueled by reading Dave’s book Storyteller where you come to really understand the deep friendship between Dave and Tyler.
And finally, in my opinion, one of the best bands of the recent decade — Greta Van Fleet. They released Starcatcher and the single Meeting the Master. WOW 🤯 — it’s just amazing! Between Foo and Greta you can hear a deep calling for something authentic and greater than oneself. The raw emotion in many of the songs is deep and compelling. There’s much depth and meaning wrapped inside Meet the Master.
When one’s focus and devotion lands on an entity or individual other than Jesus, problems and pain ensue. There has been so much pain brought by the “church,” if you will, because people have chosen to follow a man (or woman) instead of the Son of Man. Jesus has such a different message. He teaches about the upside-down Kingdom of God where the first shall be last. This is a challenge to those of us who are apprenticing under Jesus and learning to love our neighbors well and live Matthew 4 out as best as we can. Tim Mackie nailed it on this topic here.
I don’t have the time now to share all my thoughts and how I’m processing this next chapter of the Internet that’s upon us. Yes, there is so much hype, and a lot of scare tactics and fear-mongering happening around AI. I do think we must handle this next chapter with care, but I just do not buy into the scarcity and fear that some are bringing. I do believe we will see a massive shift in technology these next few years that will be fueled by AI. It will touch us all, because it will impact healthcare, consumer interactions, education, and so much more. As a YouVersion team, we have been working in this space for years. We are currently working on some really exciting uses for AI and the Bible App. I’m not ready to share any specifics, but I believe this technology has the potential to be a powerful tool that can help people engage with Scripture in a deep and meaningful way. I highly encourage you to work ChatGPT or Google Bard into your daily flow. Put it to work and test it out. Allow it to help you be a better parent, a more effective employee, or just a modern day Cliff Claven.
Great Stuff - Way more than you have time for!
The Kingdom Series: Marty Solomon — LINK
Matthew by Tim Mackie at Door of Hope — LINK
Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr | Rob Bell — LINK
The Spirit of Disciplines: John Ortberg — LINK
Rediscovering Leadership: John Ortberg | Alan George — LINK
Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg — LINK
God & The Whole Person: Soul, Mind, & Body in His Image — LINK
Hearing God: Listening to the Still, Small Voice of the Holy Spirit. — LINK
BEMA Liturgy: This is a really good weekly small group curriculum that our group has been using since the beginning. LINK
Something to leave you with.
If you scale chronological history down to the span of one year with the Big Bang occurring on January 1, our species, Homo sapiens, doesn’t appear until 11:59 p.m. on December 31. That means our written Bible and the Church appeared in the last nanosecond of December 31 in that one-year time frame. I can’t believe that God had nothing to say until the last moment. Rather, as both Paul and Thomas Aquinas say, “God has been revealing His love, goodness, and beauty since the very beginning through the natural world of creation” (see Romans 1:20). “God looked at everything God had made and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31). (Source)
Until next time.