Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem

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Storyline Conference Highlights

IMG_1564I’ve been a fan of Don Miller ever since a friend suggested that I read Blue Like Jazz shortly after it’s release. I immediately felt like I could be friends with this guy. Since then, I’ve read every one of his books, and consider A Million Miles in a Thousand Years one of my all-time favorite books. So when Don announced he would start hosting conferences based on this material, I was ready to sign up.

And that’s just what I did last month. Since he recently relocated to Nashville, one of the Storyline Conferences each year is now held there—a mere four hours from me. It was a really fun two days. It was a little like, and a little unlike, other conferences I attended. Don describes it as sort of group therapy and I have to agree. 😉

The basis for the time is that you are looking to develop a plan to discover and live out your God-given story. Before and after guest speakers, Don takes you through the process, much like he discovered along the way in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Another element of a story is added in each session. Some of his material also comes from “logotherapy,” a therapy which helps you discover meaning and purpose, hence the therapy session. The guest speakers do some instructing, but I gathered that mostly you are to see living examples of the material Don presents. There were some really awesome speakers. And then, of course, because it’s Nashville, there were local musicians who contributed to the agenda.

Honestly, I still have A LOT of thinking to do about what was said over the weekend. But I really appreciated what I heard, and am looking forward to more reflecting on it. I had already started making some baby steps in my story before arriving, but I still have a long way to go. And I have the homework from the conference to prove it! It was a very affirming time, though, and I know it will help me in the future.

Here are a few of the pearls I pulled out of the conversation:

Don Miller

  • Living great stories involves changing the way we approach life. To live a great story, we need to know who we are, what we want, what conflict we will need to engage and then we must take action.
  • If people don’t find purpose, they will pursue pleasure. – Viktor Frankel, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor (Invented “logotherapy”)
  • God did not create us to live in reaction, but to be co-creators of a meaningful life.
  • We are not our failures—or our successes.
  • Love your calling, not the applause of the crowd.
  • Your story is not about you. It’s about God using you to save many lives.
  • When you find a passion or purpose, you realize all the parts of your life have been leading up to it.
  • In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. – Viktor Frankel
  • What if God created you because the world needed to feel the impact of your story?

Becca Stevens, priest and founder of Thistle Farms

  • We learn more from mercy than judgement.
  • Love heals.

John Richmond, Federal Prosecutor at Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit

  • We are not entitled to anything. Every breathe is a gift.
  • Got wants to rescue us from thinking we have to measure up.
  • The ruler you choose matters, because it will rule you.

Shauna Niequist, author

  • God can give you a new name and a new story.
  • Hold up the hard stories in your life that have no place anymore. Lay them down and make room for new ones.
  • What are the old stories you are letting stand in your way?

Bob Goff, Founder of Restore International, Lawyer and Author of Love Does

  • See people for who they are becoming.
  • We’re afraid of our calling because we’re afraid to fail. Fail at the right stuff. Fail trying.

Joshua DuBois, emails daily devotions to President Obama

  • When we play the victim, life becomes about us.

Ryan Forsthoff, The Leadership Foundation

  • The most powerful moments in a person’s life are the moments in which they realize what they are capable of.
  • Great leaders recognize and respond to the capabilities of those they lead.


Don began and ended the conference with the question, “What will the world miss if you do not tell your story?” Um, that’s a pretty powerful question. I’m not there yet, but I’m pondering it. It definitely shapes the way I see things. I spend too much of my time comparing myself to others, and I think that was one of the things this conference does best. It reminded me that God created me. He took the time to form and shape me. I’m here for a reason. I better not waste it.

So…what would the world miss if you did not tell your story?



Here and There

105553532I know some pretty remarkable people. I’m sure you do too. They aren’t people the world knows, but perhaps it should. Among the amazing people I know are a group of women who, over time, have committed themselves to the mission field, both here and there.

There names are: Katie Johnston, Jana Brown, Julie Reagan, Rocio Elsberry, Amy McAllister, Jessica Flowers, Danielle Evans and Stacey Brednich. They have spent a year or more living overseas doing what they believed God called them to. All but one were single when they left on their adventure. They’ve taught children, helped the poor, gave social aid, taught Bible classes, loved on people unconditionally, and so much more. They left all that they knew because God led them to a new place, and they trusted He would be with them there. The first four are currently away, while the latter four have returned. I’m not even sure how many countries all of them have covered when combined. The only thing bigger and more fantastic than their stories is the God who made it possible. It wasn’t, and isn’t, easy to be gone for so long from friends, family and the culture they knew, but I think they’d all say it was worth it.

There is another name I would add to this list for many of the same reasons, though a totally different location. My friend Raechel Bowman just moved to Minnesota. No, I didn’t say Mozambique or Manilla. I said Minnesota. Like the aforementioned group, she moved because she believes God has called her there. She believes God is leading her to a new place, and she trusts He will be there with her. And I have no doubt it won’t always be easy, but she truly believes in the God who made it possible. It will be worth it. Unlike the others, she’s moving for a corporate job. Her mission field will be her home and her workplace. That is probably much more relate-able to most of us. Strangely, when I try to put myself in each of their positions, hers would be the hardest. Move to a far away land to do something out of the ordinary for a while? No problem. Move to a not so far away land to do something normal? I won’t lie when I tell you I just physically shuddered at that thought. Seriously. But Raechel is one of my heroes, and this is just one reason why. She sees the purpose behind her move, and how God got her there, and I have no doubt He will do amazing things through her in the Mall of America state.

When I think about these women I am so very proud of them. It took courage to do what they did. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to push through it. (Loosely quoting Ben Affleck in Bounce here because it’s a brilliant statement.) And they did. Now do you see? I know remarkable people. I am blessed to be part of a community with people such as these.

I am not quite sure what the purpose of this post is. I just thought you should know these names. I hope you also know people like these friends of mine. If you don’t, make some new friends. You won’t regret it. You will never be without great conversation and inspiration. You will see God around you. If you do have friends like these, support and encourage them however you can. Your voice is just as important to them as your money. Pray for them and learn from them. Ask God to make you like them. As Raechel has shown us (and we know it’s true) it doesn’t take a passport to find a mission field.

Here or there. Wherever you find yourself, live well. Live the life God called you to. Adventures can happen anywhere.

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Be The Blueprint

As expected, Sunday was a really good church service at Blueprint. I knew I would go in and get pumped up by the New Year energy of the crowd, and be encouraged to start January off right. I needed the fuel to get a jump start on my theme for 2013, be renewed after the weird year that was 2012, and grab an early anchor point to dig in and move forward in new possibilities. I was not disappointed with the new “Be The Blueprint” series.

In fact, I decided to outline some of my notes from Sunday here in case you could use a good dose of perspective and inspiration as well.

  • Too many times we reflect not on our blessings, but what we feel God is withholding from us. We take a victim or woe is me attitude.
  • We aren’t here to simply exist. There is a reason you and I exist. What do you exist for? (Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” KJV)
  • Too often we don’t spend our time living, but trying not to make God mad.
  • Blueprint’s DNA: The gospel changes people, and people change the world.
  • Blueprint’s mission: To unleash healthy people to do ministry where life exists.
  • Blueprint’s strategy: Growing in the gospel in the context of family while living on mission.
  • We are less proactive in church, but usually more reactive and defensive. We need to be on the attack. (Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ESV)

5 Reasons We Need to be Burdened By Mission

  1. Mission grows our affections for Christ, taking us from conceptual to effectual.
  2. Mission aligns our hearts with His, causing us to move from passive to compassionate.
  3. Mission reestablishes our identity, remind us we are God’s chosen vessel.
  4. Mission reminds us of our deficiencies, driving us to pray.
  5. Mission reminds us of His sufficiency, strengthening our faith. (Did you ever think that maybe the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000 weren’t for those fed, but for the disciples?)

I’m praying you find your mission, or continue it, in 2013. It’s not easy, but totally worth it. Living differently is definitely living better. I think I’ve had a few different missions during my life, depending on my life stage and circumstance. The one I’m currently on has been building over the past few years, and it’s still really exciting to me. I’m excited and curious to see where it leads me this year.

It was a breezy 50 degrees when I walked out of the church service on Sunday, but I didn’t care. I was on fire.


If you want a little more, here’s a great blog post on the Blueprint site from Pastor John on the New Year.