loose ends

anticipationWhen I come across an untended blog, I often wonder what happened.

In the case of this one, life happened.

A couple years ago, I started writing a five-days a week blog called 300wordsaday.com. But I kept writing here. That was for talking about following Jesus. This was for observations about life and social media and randomness. But this is becoming more random, more sporadic. And I am doing so much teaching and talking and shooting, that I don’t have enough energy for making observations about it.

So I’m writing this post to say, “Thanks for being on this part of the ride, but feel free to move along, there’s nothing more to see.”

I’m leaving everything here. There are probably some worthwhile observations in the archives. But I’m officially no longer feeling guilty for not writing anything.

300wordsaday.com

The email version of 300wordsaday.com

The kindle version of 300wordsaday.com

And someday at SocialMediaChaplain.com.

With love and gratitude,

Jon

Bonhoeffer by Metaxas – my video review

One of my goals for the year is to read new books and talk about  them. This month I read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (affiliate link).

It’s a long book, but very readable. Metaxas mixes stories from Bonhoeffer’s friends and family with extensive quotes from Bonhoeffer’s own writings. This mix lets us get a picture of his theology and his personality.

Here are my observations in video form.

help with writing

a quiet placeI write all the time. I think I write reasonably well.

So when I read that Chris Brogan was offering weekly emails with blogging topics, I was glad for other people, but I wasn’t sure I was interested.

Then, the other day, Chris gave us all a sample of one of those emails. I sent him a message telling him that it was a waste of time because rather than being able to bounce from twitter to facebook to email to twitter, I found myself writing. I wrote a post to the people who read 300wordsaday.com about how I think about them while writing. I wrote two more posts that build on that one. I started looking at a series of posts for the month of February.

Chris talks, for example, about a post about problems:

Should Something Ever Go Wrong – Imagine giving your customers or readers or friends a post where you explain ahead of time how you wish they’d handle a break from your typical promised experience. … Giving your audience a strong understanding on how to deal with what to do when things don’t go as planned is a powerful opportunity to build a relationship before you need it.

I read that and thought, “What if I wrote about what happens when you run into hypocrites in church? About what happens when the Bible doesn’t make sense? About what happens when prayer doesn’t work?”

I mean, those are the kinds of things people ask me about and yet I haven’t clearly written about them.

And I never would have thought about that series without Chris’ prompts.

The early people to talk about rhetoric, persuasive discourse, talked about the five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. The first was about finding ideas, about finding new ways to talk about what you already know.

I always skipped over invention.  I never knew what I was missing.

His emails are available by subscription. But try the free one. See if it helps.

It helped me.

Looking under the sink.

closeup of shut-off valve

This is a shut-off valve. It is under the kitchen sink at my parents’ condo.  I looked at it Friday morning. I was trying to decide whether to fix the kitchen faucet.

Fixing the faucet depended on turning off this valve. Because the valve is so badly damaged from previous attempts to turn it with a wrench, I decided to let a plumber replace it.

Why do I show you this picture?

  • Because I used a Kodak Zi8 in closeup mode to take this picture so I could see the problem better and so I could show my dad.
  • Because I think about taking pictures differently now than I used to.
  • Because using pictures to illustrate posts and to show people what is going on around me that happens through flickr and twitpic has changed how I think about using a camera.
  • Because sometimes social media tools may just help someone see under the sink, a place they can’t see anymore.

Sometimes for just one person in the same room. Sometimes for you.

on using video

Sue Murphy wrote today about adding video to our online presence. She deals well with the concerns that it’s too expensive, that it’s too technical and that we don’t like how we look.

She’s right. I realized over the last month that while there is a place for complicated productions, there is also a place for simple pieces that give your readers a sense of your tone of voice, the places you smile, the meaning of your inflection.

This video took some thinking and three takes, but it gives a sense of one way to use video. Thanks Sue.

Sue, of course, wrote the (a) ebook on video: Creating Amazing Video.

8 things to practice.

I was talking with a friend. Sometimes, my friend said, the tone of voice my friend uses causes problems. So I suggested my friend could practice saying things to learn how to moderate tone of voice and to practice being more gentle.

It made me start wondering what kinds of things we could practice, simple things that we do all the time that we could do more effectively, more intentionally. Most of these are things we can practice when no one is around, paying attention to how to do it better when people are around, when we are doing it for real.

1. Your tone of voice.

2. The volume of your voice.

3. Measuring the amount of water and the amount of coffee used every night.

4. Reading books out loud for kids.

5. Drawing stick figures.

6. Listening before speaking.

7. Not telling an “I can top that story” when someone tells a story.

8. Smiling.

 

Blank slate.

a ream of paperHope had a Christmas list. We gave her a number of things on the list. One of them was a ream of paper.

So we got her a ream of paper. And colored pencils.

And I wrote on the plain wrapping paper this: “Sometimes the best gift is a blank slate.”

As I wrote it, I was thinking about all that Hope is going to print on that paper. She and her roommate will print a semester’s worth of papers, of research, of assignments. I was trying to bring some status to a plain (though necessary) gift.

I quickly realized that I was more right than I thought. Sometimes the best gift we can give to family, to friends, to ourselves, is a blank slate. Free of expectations, of limitations, of blame. A fresh start.

This is the third year I’ll start the new year with a clean Moleskine notebook. A blank slate. A fresh start.

I’m wondering what would happen if we handed our friends a ream of paper, a new package of 3×5 cards, a new whiteboard. What would happen if we meant it.