Thursday, August 01, 2019

Alpha

A little over a year ago, as I was wrapping up my sabbatical and coming to the decision that it was  time for me to step out of vocational ministry, Mandy and I were having lots of conversation about what was next. This was going to be a big decision, and we wanted to make sure that we had a good place for our family to land for this next season.  We pretty quickly came to the conclusion that Christ City Church was going to be a great fit for us. We knew the leaders and resonated with the vision of the church. At the time we felt like this would be a place for us to rest, but we also wondered how we would contribute once a period of rest was up.

One morning Mandy woke up and asked what I thought about doing Alpha at Christ City. Alpha has been on the periphery of our lives since I was on staff at Hillside Church in Marin County. That church had been doing Alpha for several years at the time we were there, and though we were never a part of it, we saw the impact that it had on the church.

We thought about doing Alpha when we started Neighborhood Church but didn't feel it was the right time. Over the years we would hear about how God was using Alpha in other parts of the world, and we would wonder if it was time. It never seemed to be the case. She and I were both too maxed out to give it the proper attention and leadership it needed.  So now, as we were making the transition out of vocational ministry, we wondered if it could be the time.

We've been at Christ City for eleven months now, and after a great season of rest, we're stepping back into leadership. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach at Christ City. I taught on Rest and Responsibility (you can listen to it here if you'd like). It has been so good to be in a season of rest this last year, but I know that I'm not meant to sit on the sidelines too long. I'm created for responsibility. I still have such a love for the church, and after doing ministry for twenty years, it's not something that I want to completely give up. I'm just happy to be doing it on a smaller and more focused scale.

So I'm happy to share that Alpha at Christ City Church starts on September 8. For the past couple of months we've been recruiting a team, and over the next month we'll be solidifying the many details needed for the launch. I'm excited to be able to focus on one thing, and I'm excited that this is something that Mandy and I will be doing together.

I recognize that I've yet to tell you exactly what Alpha is, but rather than tell you here, I invite you to check out the Alpha page on Christ City's website.

Friday, April 26, 2019

My New Office

In January I came across a couple of posts by Mr. Money Mustache (here and here) about buildings that he had constructed. As I read these articles, I found myself starting to desire to build a home office for myself.

There were a couple of initial reasons. First, now that I am doing real estate full-time and don’t have any plans to stop, I know that I’m going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. This has been working for me for some time, though it gets a bit tricky in the summer when everyone is home. Second, I have a little more time on my hands than in the past, and I thought it would be fun to take on a physical project. I have learned over the years that I am not a “measure twice, cut once” kind of guy. That’s just not in my DNA. So I stick with the things that I’m good at, but at the same time, I have a desire to grow in this area.

After reading quite a bit over a couple of days, I pitched the idea to Mandy. I wasn’t sure what she would say. She loved my two reasons but added a third. Adam is about to be in high school, and he and Micah have always shared a bedroom, and she thought it might be nice for them to have their own rooms. She suggested that I build something for me, and then Adam take the bedroom that is my current office.

And there it was. We were on the same page way quicker than I thought we would be. As I researched, I quickly came to the conclusion that it would not be a wise move for me to try to build something from scratch. Again, the “measure twice, cut once” is really important for that kind of work. So I went to Probuilt of Memphis to look for a shed. I decided that my best bet would be to hire someone to build a 20x12 shed, and then I would finish the interior.

First we had to demo the existing shed. Then we had to make sure water wouldn’t build up under the new shed. We also had to get new fencing since the existing building’s  had served as the fence.





On Monday, March 18 two guys from Probuilt Memphis showed up to build my shed.  The only thing they had built in advance were the roof trusses. By 3:00 on Tuesday the shed was completed. I was blown away at how good these guys were. We had them build a wall to divide the building into two parts. I still needed a place for the mower and other tools, so six of the twenty feet is shed. The ceiling is lower on this part, which allowed for a loft in the office portion for storage. So glad we did that. And they built shelves in the shed portion.





The next day the electrical rough-in took place, and the day after that, we had closed cell spray foam insulation installed.  Then the drywall went up.




On Saturday the entire family painted the exterior. Once the drywall was finished, I painted the interior. Then I laid this vinyl plank flooring from Home Depot, and finally I had a carpenter install the heat and air unit and install the trim and baseboard.






As one who is involved in a lot of construction projects, I'm so pleased with how the project turned out and how quickly it happened. I love my office. Here are a few photos of the finished project.






Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Books Read - December 2018

Last December I set a goal to read 30 books. I had never set a goal like this before, but I wanted accountability. I ended the year having read 45 books, which I am very pleased with. There were two takeaways from the goal setting. First, it was great motivation to start a new book. Second, and even more important, it was great motivation to finish a book before starting a new book. That's my normal problem. I start a lot of books. The problem is finishing. Setting a goal, and then providing updates on that goal, went a long way in helping me read more and thus better myself.

So here are the five books I read in December...

Long-Distance Real Estate Investing, by David Greene
David Greene is the new co-host of the Bigger Pockets podcast, which is one of my favorite podcasts. I heard him interviewed in a podcast sometime in 2017 and was immediately impressed by his work ethic and organization. I'm not so much a long-distance investor, but I found a lot of gems in this book that help me nonetheless.

Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
I'll be the first to admit that this one took me awhile to work through. I find that Rohr is one of those right place right time books. It takes me a little while to get truly engaged. But once I do, I find words that cause me to breathe more deeply.

Of Blood and Bone, by Nora Roberts
This is the sequel to Year One. Though not as good as the first, still a page turner.

The Lions of Lucerne, by Brad Thor
This is book 1 of a rather large series by Brad Thor. I really like political thrillers. This one wasn't amazing, but it was good enough that I'll probably read others by him.

West Cork, by Sam Bungey & Jennifer Forde
This was an audible exclusive. It's more like a podcast (think Serial) than a book, but I'm still counting it :)  It's a fascinating true crime story set in southern Ireland.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Books Read - November, 2018

Eleven months in and I'm happy to report that I've read 40 books. My goal in January was 30.

Here are the four books I read this months.

The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard
I first read this book fifteen years ago. It's probably shaped me as much as any other book has, and I decided that I wanted to go back through it. It's not a quick read at all, but taking your time through a book like this is highly recommended.

Retire Early with Real Estate, by Chad Carson
A few months ago I heard a BiggerPockets podcast with Chard Carson and really liked what I heard. Carson is younger than me and is financially independent, which means he has enough money coming in each month to cover his bills. The bulk of this is from real estate. He still works, but he's able to do the things he's passionate about. The thing I loved most about this book is the profiles he includes in each chapter of real estate investors who have done similar things to him.

The Mountain Between Us, by Charles Martin
I checked this out from the library and read it in a day and a half. It was that good. I hope to see the movie sometime soon.

Year One, by Nora Roberts
It's a bit of the Hunger Games meets Harry Potter, though not as good as either and with a few more adult themes. Still, a good read, and I'm about to start the sequel.




Friday, November 02, 2018

Books Read - October, 2018

Here are the books I read in October.

Unshakeable, by Tony Robbins
This is a follow up to Money: Master the Game, which was an excellent book that led to several big changes in how we manage our finances. There is some repeat material in this book, but it's still great. The last chapter is worth the price of the book.

The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod
Elrod advocates early morning habits as the key to productivity. He coined a nice acronym to help one remember those habits: SAVERS
S - Silence
A - Affirmations
V - Visualization
E - Exercise
R - Reading
S - Scribing (Journaling)

The Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents, by Hal Elrod
I read both of these books because they're free on Kindle Unlimited, which I am currently subscribed to. That being said, I'm glad I didn't pay for this book, as it is basically a repeat of the material of his previous book, albeit with the addition of a story about a real estate agent woven throughout the book.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
After reading John Grisham's Camino Island, which is about Fitzgerald's works, I decided to read his most famous novel. It's a short and fascinating read. Highly recommended.

Haunted, by James Patterson
This is the tenth book from the Michael Bennett series. Not one of his finest but still a good read.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Books Read - September 2018

Last December I set a goal to read 30 books during 2018. I also decided, for the sake of accountability, to post what I'm reading to my blog and facebook. Three quarters in and I've reached my goal. So far 31 books read.

Here are the books I read in September.


The Path Between Us, by Suzanne Stabile
This is another book on the Enneagram, but its focus is on how the enneagram works within relationships. I think I've had aha moments with each enneagram book I've read. This one was no exception.

Water to Wine, by Brian Zahnd
This was another one of those right time, right place kinds of books. I was on amazon looking at something, and this book was on the "you might like this book also" line. I clicked on it and saw that it was available on kindle unlimited, and since I had that for another 6 weeks I picked it up. I read it in a few days. It was so timely. I especially enjoyed his chapter on fixed hour prayer, and I've been practicing his prayer liturgy most days during the last few weeks.

Camino Island, by John Grisham
I had read this one before. I listened to it this time. Nothing life-altering about it, but it's a fun read.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Breakfast with Adam


When Adam entered 6th grade I decided to begin a new tradition with him. I decided that I would take him out for breakfast once a week before school, and during that time I would take some intentional steps in helping him move from boyhood to manhood. We have been blessed to have good schools for our boys, but we know that there are some subjects that our education system is unable to tackle. That’s where we as parents come in. 

We go to different places each week, but our favorite is Barksdale. Adam likes tradition, and our waiter knows what we want as soon as we walk in. We love that place.

The first year we read a book together on the topic of manhood. Last year we continued the tradition, and our focus was on memorizing Scripture. This year we’re reading another book together, but we’re also talking about money. When Adam turned 11 Mandy and I opened a car fund savings account for him. We told him that when he was ready to buy a car, we would match whatever he wants to spend. Let me tell you…the kid caught on to this. He’s a natural saver, and I’m a bit worried about what he’s going to want to buy in a few years!

This summer he got his first real job helping to teach swim lessons. He did a great job, and I think he really enjoyed it. A few weeks ago I talked to him about the power of compound interest, explaining what $500 could look like 40 years from now. It’s a little over $20k. Here’s the crazy thing. Hold it for another 10 years and it comes close to tripling! He was pretty amazed. So he took his taxable income from his summer job and we opened a Roth IRA for him.  Can we say Proud Dad Moment!

I’ve always known that I wanted to take an active role in the formation of my kids. I believe that there is a unique role that dads play in this task. Like every other man I know though, my biggest obstacle was myself. I didn’t know how to do it. Fearing that this would lead to never doing anything because I didn’t have the perfect plan, I mustered up the courage to do one breakfast. The next week Adam asked if we could do it again. And then he did it again the next week. He’s grown to love the routine, and you better believe that I’m going to maximize this for as long as he wants to do it.