Can You Meet the Expectation? – Review of “The Four Tendencies”

Someone expects you to do something. How do you respond?

It might depend on your personality.


“With wisdom, experience, and self-knowledge from the Four Tendencies, we can use our time more productively, make better decisions, suffer less stress, get healthier, and engage more effectively with other people.”
– Gretchen Rubin

Is it easier for you to do something if someone else asks you to do it? Or does that make you want to run the other way?

Do you prefer setting your own schedule or having it set for you?

Do you ask multiple questions before making a decision or do you make the decision first and ask questions later?

It depends on your personality.

Another Personality System?

Some people enjoy personality typing systems, like Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, Five Love Languages, etc. (Count me in this group. A great resource for us is Anne Bogel’s book Reading People; it explains many different systems. Read more about it here, “What’s Your Type?“)

But some people dislike personality tests. Why box yourself in? Who can explain another human being? Etc.

Granted, some personality schemes seem wacky. And many are quite complex. They take work to figure out where you fit in. And sometimes the answers they provide are informational only, not easily applicable to everyday life.

But sometimes, personality profiles are simple, logical, AND helpful.

The Four Tendencies fits in that category. It’s new. Gretchen Rubin (author of Better than Before and The Happiness Project) has been working diligently on figuring this one out. And she’s hit the mark.

You can read about it in her new book, The Four TendenciesThe Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too).

The four Tendencies are: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.

Take the free quiz here.

“Many personality frameworks cram too many elements into their categories. By contrast, the Four Tendencies describes only one narrow aspect of a person’s character.”

How Do You Handle Expectations?

The Four Tendencies begins with a simple question:

How do you respond to expectations?

Gretchen explains we are all faced with two kinds of expectations over and over:

  • Outer expectations—expectations others place on us, like meeting a work deadline, and
  • Inner expectations—expectations we place on ourselves, like keeping a New Year’s resolution.

How you respond to outer and inner expectations determines which Tendency you are.

  1. Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
  2. Questioners question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, thus responding only to inner expectations.
  3. Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  4. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Once you know your Tendency, you can approach life more efficiently and effectively.

“The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.”

And if you know the Tendency of people you live or work with, you can improve your relationships through better understanding of how these people work.

One quick way to begin exploring your own Tendency is to answer this:

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? Do you tend to make and keep them, argue about them, hate them, only do them with someone else?

In general, Gretchen explains,

  1. Upholders enjoy New Year’s resolutions and will also make resolutions at other times of the year.
  2. Questioners will make them when the time seems right, objecting that January 1 is just an arbitrary date.
  3. Obligers often stopped making New Year’s resolutions because they’ve failed so often in the past. Or if they do make them, they often don’t keep them.
  4. Rebels dislike resolutions. They don’t want to bind themselves with resolutions (even though they may occasionally make them for a challenge).

Can we change our Tendency if we don’t like it? No.

But we can often change our situation to better suit our Tendency. For example, if you’re an Obliger, you might ask for an accountability partner to help you reach a goal.

Is one Tendency better than the others? No.

But those who understand and work with their Tendency are often happier, healthier, and more productive. Why? Because . . .

“They’re the people who have figured out how to harness the strengths of their Tendency, counteract the weaknesses, and build the lives that work for them.”

From Gretchen’s research, the Tendencies are distributed among people like this:

  • 41% of people are Obligers
  • 24% are Questioners
  • 19% are Upholders
  • 17% are Rebels

Of course no one is completely one Tendency. We are all a mix, and different situations may highlight a different Tendency trait in us. But overall, we typically lean more heavily in one area than any others.

Tendency Specifics

About Upholders:

I’m an Upholder (so is Gretchen). I always want to be on time; I want to keep commitments I make to others but also ones I’ve made to myself; I make schedules and typically keep them if not interrupted.

But Upholders can also be annoying (just ask my family, especially the non-Upholder ones). I don’t like it when other people make me late. I am uncomfortable with abrupt change or frequent distractions to my carefully-crafted schedules. Once I decide to do something, I feel compelled to keep the streak going, even if it no longer makes sense (I rarely give up on a book once I start it, but I’m getting better at laying down the boring ones).

People often think Upholders are uptight, but to us, discipline brings freedom. It makes us happy.

If you’re married to an Upholder or have a child who is an Upholder, understand these things about them. Learn to give more advance notice about upcoming changes, help your Upholders accept their own mistakes more graciously, and don’t try to micromanage an Upholder (they micromanage themselves).

About Questioners:

Understand that Questioners make decisions carefully (and often slowly). They want clarity. Give them reasons. But don’t overquestion them; they don’t like having their own decisions questioned.

About Obligers:

Obligers feel most burdened. They hate letting anyone down. They’ll do everything they can to meet your expectations of them, but struggle to meet their own expectations. They are the most likely to burn out. Remind them to respect their own needs, too, not just the needs of others.

About Rebels:

Don’t tell a Rebel what to do, if possible. They’re likely to do the exact opposite. Just lay out some legitimate options and then allow them the freedom to make their own decisions and do it their own way.

What Each Tendency Needs

A quick synopsis for working with other Tendencies is this.

  • Upholders want to know what should be done.
  • Questioners want justifications.
  • Obligers need accountability.
  • Rebels want freedom to do something their own way.

And one question matters most for each:

  • Upholders ask: “Should I do this?”
  • Questioners ask: “Does this make sense?”
  • Obligers ask: “Does this matter to anyone else?”
  • Rebels ask: “Is this the person I want to be?”

Understanding each Tendency and the way they interact with the world is not just interesting table conversation; it’s beneficial information that can be life-changing.

“When we recognize our Tendency, we can tweak situations to boost our chances of success. It’s practically impossible to change our own nature, but it’s fairly easy to change our circumstances in a way that suits our Tendency—whether by striving for more clarity, justification, accountability, or freedom. Insight about our Tendency allows us to create the situations in which we’ll thrive.”

* * *

Learn more about the Four Tendencies here.

Which Tendency are you? What are your partner’s Tendency? (I think Jeff is a Questioner; he questioned the whole validity of this system.) Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Blogging for Books
for the review copy of this book.

sharing with JenniferKelly, CharAnita, Barbie

The Ordinary Day I Met an Extraordinary Story

On “Ordinary” Days

It seemed like an ordinary Saturday at Outdoor Church. It was 2012. Jeff and I showed up.

And in an ordinary way, we met a man named Walt.

I knew something was special about him, this homeless man who sang “Amazing Grace” like he fully understood it.


2012, Walter and me after Outdoor Church

But I didn’t know how much his specialness was going to stick with me.

Walt and I continued doing church together once a month at Outdoor Church when we each could make it. Occasionally we’d see each other during the week at Manna House if he needed food. Or at the annual King’s Banquet held at The Rock Family Worship Center where we serve our homeless guests as royalty.

2014-02 Walter

2014, Walter and me at King’s Banquet

~ * ~

2015-04-04 Walter

2015, Walter and me at Manna House

~ * ~

2016-02 Walter

2016, Another King’s Banquet with Walt and me

~ * ~

Then one day I heard good news. Walt got housing. His homeless days were over.

We Make “Ordinary” Introductions

A few years later, another ordinary Saturday, I showed up at our Huntsville Dream Center for Servolution, an outreach into our community to show the love of God.

A four-year-old girl named Aleesa and her mom volunteered for the same assignment that morning.

I didn’t yet know Aleesa or her mom. Neither did Walt.

But all that was about to change. In big ways.

Aleesa, her mom, and I were put on the same team. We were to deliver goodie bags to a public housing unit – the one where Walt lived.

Door to door we knocked together. Eventually we knocked on Walt’s door. That was when Aleesa and Walt first met. She and her mom connected with Walt immediately.

And they stayed connected. They became friends.

I’d even say they became family.

A New Story Begins

Anybody can hear the beginning of their story. Because Aleesa wrote it down. With the help of her mom, she published their story in a book, The Day I Met Walt.



On yet another Saturday, last October 2016, Aleesa and Walt held a book launch.

Walt couldn’t have been more proud. He was dressed in his best and wore his biggest smile. Many of us lined up at the Huntsville Dream Center to get our copies autographed by Aleesa and Walt.

2016-10-15 Aleesa

~ * ~

2016-10-15 book

~ * ~

2016-10-15 autographs

~ * ~


~ * ~

I treasure my copy.

Five months later, Walt died.

But the Story Continues

I no longer get to hear Walt sing at Outdoor Church. Or sing in the elevator for us at his apartment complex. I no longer get to hear him tell what God has done for him lately, how good God is.

I miss Walt.

But thanks to Aleesa and her book, his story lives on.

Aleesa now reads her book at schools and churches across our area, sharing her love for Walt and God’s love for us.

A few weeks ago, she read her book to the students where my daughter teaches. Jenna’s 1st graders sat mesmerized as Aleesa read her book, with her mom by her side. Here was a fellow 1st grader, just like them, who had written a real book. We gave them each a copy of their own to take home.

2017-10 Aleesa

As Aleesa tells it, she may be little, but she serves a big God. I can hear Walt in my head, sharing that same sentiment.

Who Is in Your Story?

I know Aleesa will continue to do amazing things in service to her big God. She has a godly family leading the way. I’m grateful for the day I first met them and for the encounters we’ve had since.

We never know what will happen next when we meet a person. Aleesa and Walt couldn’t have known how their paths would merge on the day they first met. But I’m sure glad they did.

The day Aleesa met Walt not only changed their lives, but it continues to change other lives as well.

Stay alert to who you meet this week. It might seem like an ordinary day, but it could be the start of an extraordinary story.

* * *

When have you had an “ordinary” encounter that turned out to be extraordinary? Please share in the comments.

You can purchase Aleesa’s book, The Day I Met Walt, at Amazon or at Aleesa’s homepage. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Huntsville Dream Center.

I wrote more about Walt here:

~ * ~

Watch Aleesa tell about her story here.

Four-Year-Old-Aleesa Self-Published

sharing with Terri, LoriDeb, Lyli,
DawnCrystal, Brenda, CarmenDebbie

Why You Are Still Here

It could have been a birthday weekend. Happy 24th to our middle girl.

Instead, we went to the cemetery.


If Kali had lived her first day, 24 years ago today, and the day after, and the day after, I would have been more eager to live those days, too.

But instead, when she died on Day 1, November 13, born several weeks premature and with severe problems, part of me wanted to die, too.

Don’t we all die a thousand little deaths throughout our lives? Don’t we all collect bruises on our souls?

The author of Psalm 118 certainly had his own little deaths. He knew about prisons and enemies and destruction. He (and the Hebrew people collectively) had been pushed hard.

But at this point he had not been handed all the way over to death (Psalm 118:18).

Others had died. Why not him? Why not me? Why not you? Why not yet?

It took me awhile to understand why I was still living without my baby to care for.

Resurrection is sometimes instantaneous. But sometimes resurrection only comes one slow Spirit-breath at a time.

For me, it was one small thing at a time—a friend making dinner after my C-section, a sympathy card in the mailbox, a flower left on Kali’s grave.

And one person at a time—a gentle hug, a conversation mentioning Kali by name, an empathetic ear.

Each thing reminded me I had a reason to still be here.

  • I had a husband who loved me (and was grieving too),
  • a 4-yr-old daughter (Morgan)who needed her mommy, and
  • a God determined for me to know joy again.

(And unknown at the time, another reason to still be here: in another year, another daughter, Jenna, would be conceived and enter our world.)

It is for the living we stay. For the loving. For the Lord.

If you are here reading this—as I am still here writing it—the Lord still has purpose here for you, too.

Even if you’ve come to the very rim of death, or are in crisis of a little death even today, know that God  kept you from falling over the edge for now, for a reason.

You still have . . .

  • living to do
  • love to give
  • praise to proclaim

God can empower a thousand little resurrections over your thousand little deaths.

So even though I am sad today (for me) that Kali is not here in the flesh, I can proclaim with confidence along with the psalmist in Psalm 118: “The Lord is powerful!” (Psalm 118:15 CEV)

Even when I don’t understand death, I can trust in resurrection.

I have lived to tell what the Lord has done.

* * *

Do you know why you are still here? You are here to love somebody this week. Someone is here to love you. Please share in the comments.

Revised from the archives at Do Not Depart

Want to Publish a Book? Review of “Independent Publishing for Christian Authors”

Independent Publishing for Christian Authors

I don’t have “Write a Book” on my to-do list.

But after reading this newest book from Ed Cyzewski, I can entertain the idea.

I certainly want to sell books, but that’s more of a side benefit of serving my readers rather than the large goal looming over everything I do.”
– Ed Cyzewski, Independent Publishing for Christian Authors

Maybe you’re not interested in writing a book, but you know someone who is. Or maybe you’ve already been published multiple times but are searching for new options.

Whatever your situation, this short book is a great resource of information about book publishing from someone who knows.

Independent Publishing for Christian Authors: A Guide to the Why, When, and How for Writers will help you answer these questions for yourself.

  • Do you want to pursue independent publishing?
  • Is commercial publishing a safer, although less profitable, option?
  • Do you have to separate ministry and publishing?
  • Is publishing books a viable way to earn a living?
  • How would you distribute an independent book?

But don’t expect to be coddled as you read. Ed is honest.

“I hope to inject a heavy dose of reality into our misconceptions, expectations, and fantasies about the Christian publishing world.”

~ * ~

“If you’re hoping to make it to the top 5% as a commercial Christian author, you will most likely need a large event, website, ministry, or church to help you connect with enough readers.”

~ * ~

“The typical new author will most likely not make a full time income from commercial Christian publishing.”

Ed has published both independently and commercially (see his other great books here). And for the health of his soul and ministry, he is choosing independent publishing for now.

Granted, commercial publishing offers many advantages, which he lists: development editing, content editing, selecting a title, designing a cover, writing a product description, and managing a publicity campaign.

But with a little research and work, independent authors can get help for those issues, too.

You can learn basics online or through books to walk you through the process. Amazon has Word templates you can use. Programs like Scrivener help you not only with the actual writing, but also taking notes, sorting chapters, and formatting the final file.

Independent authors ultimately have more control of their books. After you publish your book (and face it, Amazon’s Kindle will be key) the book is still under your control. If it flops after release, you can take it down, edit it differently, and try again.

Publishing independently helps you escape sales goals, lets you do publicity your way, and allows you to receive much higher royalty rates per sale.

I learned many things I didn’t know about the publishing business just from this short ebook.

I still haven’t added “Write a Book” into my goals, but at least I don’t consider it out of reach if I want to.

Thanks for the encouragement, Ed. Through your books, blogs, and emails, I know you’re the real deal. Keep writing!

“Just as professional athletes invested countless hours into practice and development, professional writers need to write, even if that writing is never published.”

~ * ~

“I won’t say that there has never been a better time to write and publish books. . . .I will say that authors have more options today than ever.  If you believe in your book and you want to reach readers, there is nothing but time and hard work standing in your way.”

* * *

If you’re interested, Independent Publishing for Christian Authors is only $0.99 now at Amazon.

Have you ever written a book? Writing one now? Please share in the comments.

sharing with Susan, Dawn

How to Connect {Mark the Moment Series #5}

This is the final edition of How to Mark the Moment, a series based on Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. This week we look at the fourth element of how to create a powerful moment, “Moments of Connection.”

How to Connect

If you’ve ever felt disconnected from your work or a group or a friend, you know how uncomfortable it is. Sometimes you feel lost at how to reconnect.

But below is concrete advice from authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is the fourth element from The Power of Moments:

Create moments of connection.

To Connect with a Group

  1. Create a synchronized moment in person

We are familiar with many of these: graduations, weddings, meetings. But we don’t have to wait for momentous occasions to create a moment. Just don’t do it with regular remote communication; share something together in person.

The book tells about a special hospital all-staff meeting assembly that was life-changing for the employees.

“The staffers who attended the All-Staff Assembly absorbed some critical messages from the situation: This is important. (Our leaders wouldn’t rent all the buses in a city for something mundane.) This is real. (They can’t back off the things they said when 4,000 of us heard them.) We’re in this together. (I see a sea of faces around me, and we’re all on the same team.) And what we’re doing matters. (We’ve recommitted ourselves to a purpose—caring for those in need—that is bigger than any of us.)”
– Chip Heath, Dan Heath

  1. Invite shared struggle

“If you want to be part of a group that bonds like cement, take on a really demanding task that’s deeply meaningful. All of you will remember it for the rest of your lives.”

We can likely all relate to this. Maybe it was a church mission trip overseas. Or walking alongside a family through tough times. Or an important school project.

“People will choose to struggle—not avoid it or resist it—if the right conditions are present. The conditions are: The work means something to them; they have some autonomy in carrying it out; and it’s their choice to participate or not.”

  1. Connect to meaning

Groups need to be reminded of their true purpose. It’s easy to forget it in the day-to-day minutiae.

The book differentiates in particular between passion and purpose. Which would you think is more critical?

While we prefer to have both passion and purpose, studies show that purpose inspires us the most.

“The outcome is clear. Purpose trumps passion. Graduation speakers take note: The best advice is not “Pursue your passion!” It’s “Pursue your purpose!” (Even better, try to combine both.)

Passion is individualistic. It can energize us but also isolate us, because my passion isn’t yours. By contrast, purpose is something people can share. It can knit groups together.”

When purpose seems lacking, it’s important to dig deeper for meaning. Ask yourself a series of “why’s”: why you joined the group in the first place, why it was formed, and why it should continue. Then ask another layer of why after why until you get to the root of your purpose.

To Connect with an Individual

  1. Be responsive

A critical element in healthy relationships is responsiveness.

“Our relationships are stronger when we perceive that our partners are responsive to us.”

Responsiveness means:

  • we feel understood,
  • we feel validated,
  • and we feel cared for.

And vice versa.

A doctor in the book is quoted as asking her patients not just, “What’s the matter?” but “What matters to you?” The responses can be quite different and intensely meaningful.

It doesn’t have to take years for a relationship to become intimate. It can happen in a short period of time with the right moments.

  1. Take turns

The book recommends this 36 Questions app (I haven’t looked at it) from Art Aron’s 36 Questions experiment. By taking turns asking and openly responding to a series of questions over the course of an hour, even total strangers can develop a real connection.


“Responsiveness coupled with openness leads to intimacy. It happens via ‘turn-taking.’”

Benefits of Connection

By taking the time to intentionally engage in meaningful moments, almost all relationships can improve.

It doesn’t take special get-aways or skills or money, but just a willingness and effort to take action.

Because we all want to hear this . . .

“This is important. This is real. We’re in this together. And what we’re doing matters.”

* * *

Who do you need to reconnect with this week? Please share in the comments.


The Four (EPIC) Elements of Marking the Moment:

sharing with Deb, LyliDawnDebbie, Carmen, Brenda,
CrystalShari, Patricia, Kristin, Holley

First Ask – Don’t Sink in the Lake


It happened three years ago. I’m not sure what time. Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. I was probably in the house.

This is what we pieced together.

Some guys decided to fish in the lake in our backyard. If we know you, we love that. Or even if we don’t know you, you’re welcome to fish, if you’ll just ask.

But the first bad decision the strangers made that night was to fish without asking.

The second wrong decision is after their line got hung, they decided to go into the lake to recover it. In our flat-bottomed boat. Again, without asking.

The next mistake is upon discovering there were no paddles in the boat, instead of requesting to borrow ours in the house, they decided to make their own paddles. Out of our footbridge. They tore out two boards and hopped in the boat.


What they didn’t know was this: our boat has a leak. They couldn’t have been in it long before their feet were covered in water. And not much longer before they had to row back to shore. Or else sink.

One bad decision often leads to another. When we start out doing the wrong thing, that path inevitably leads us to another wrong thing. And another.

Then before we know it, we’re in the middle of a lake in a leaky boat with old planks as paddles.

Don’t end up in the middle of a lake in a leaky boat with old planks as paddles.

If you want to fish, ask first.

Now when I think about our visitors, I’m reminded to ask first for what I want.

For permission or help or guidance.

  • God, can I . . .?
  • Will you . . .?
  • Should I . . . ?

I don’t want one bad thing to lead to another.

“If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.”
James 1:5 (CEV)

~ * ~

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.”
Matthew 7:7 (The Message)

~ * ~

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)


* * *

Have you already asked God for what you want this week? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

sharing with JenniferChar, Kelly,
BarbieLori, Terri, Anita

Links, Books, and Things I Love – November 2017

Here are favorites from October and what I’m looking forward to in November. We share once a month at Leigh’s.

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

5 Things Around the Web

1. Eight Questions to Help You Understand and Apply the Bible
by Matthew Harmon


“The questions we ask when we read the Bible largely determine how we understand and apply the Bible. So we need to make sure we are asking the right questions, the kind of questions the Bible was designed to answer.”

~ * ~

2. The 15 Most Influential Websites of All Time
By Alex Fitzpatrick, Lisa Eadicicco, and Matt Peckham

Most influential websites

How many can you guess?
The web turns 27 years old on December 20.
Here’s TIME’s collection of the 15 websites that most influenced the medium, and why.

~ * ~

3. How to Engage a Fanatic
David Brooks
“The only way to confront fanaticism is with love, he said.
Ask the fanatics genuine questions. Paraphrase what they say so they know they’ve been heard. Show some ultimate care for their destiny and soul even if you detest the words that come out of their mouths.”

~ * ~

4. Why Americans have stopped eating leftovers
By Caitlin Dewey


“The average person wasted 3.5 pounds of food per week.
Of that, only a third consisted of inedible parts, such as chicken bones or banana peels. And of the remaining, edible trashed food, bin digs found that 23 percent consisted of prepared leftovers, from any source — followed by fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and liquids and oils.”

~ * ~

5. What decent men can do in response to #MeToo
By Nicole Stamp
This includes 14 concrete ways that men (and women) can improve the climate for woman around them.

Such as,

  • 1. Practice this phrase: “That’s not cool.” Say it to other men who are saying disrespectful things to or about women.
  • 6. Don’t call her sweetie. With colleagues and strangers, avoid diminutive nicknames like hon, baby, darling, girl, young lady or kiddo.
  • 7. Revise your idea of consent. If your partner hesitates, stops reciprocating, avoids eye contact, becomes quiet, tense or frozen, or otherwise slows the tempo of any sexual encounter, then you should STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
  • 11. Give extra space after dark. If a woman is walking alone at night or in a secluded area, please recognize that she’s probably nervous. So, if you’re walking behind her, slow down to increase the distance between you.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

5 Things on Books

1. The Library (Usually) Doesn’t Want Your Used Books
by Nick Douglas
What do you do with your used books? Some suggestions here.

~ * ~

2. 10 Excellent Fall Nonfiction Reads
by Anne Bogel


This list includes several favorites I just finished: Braving the Wilderness, Reading People, and The Power of Moments. I love The Power of Moments so much I’m doing a 5-part series on it here, How to Mark the Moments

~ * ~

3. A Five Minutes Guide to Better Typography
The content here is useful, but the way it’s put together? It’s art.

~ * ~

4. 15 Terrific Audiobooks You Can Listen to in 6(ish) Hours or (Much) Less
by Anne Bogel
Also from Modern Mrs. Darcy, this is a list of shorter audiobooks, if you don’t want to invest a lot of time listening to one book.

~ * ~

5. Six Books I Finished + Five Great Books I’m Reading Now


~ * ~

•  Reading Now

  1. The Righteous Mind
    Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
    by Jonathan Haidt
  2. Downsizing the Family Home
    What to Save, What to Let Go
    by Marni Jameson
  3. The Sacred Enneagram
    Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
    by Christopher L. Heuertz
  4. Dream Hoarders
    How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It
    by Richard V. Reeves
  5. How to Think
    A Survival Guide for a World at Odds
    by Alan Jacobs

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

5 Things I Love

•  5K Together


Tatum, Morgan, Lisa, Jeff, Averie, Jenna, Trey

Morgan talked our family (including her sister-in-law and niece) into running (or for some of us, walking) the Ribbon Run 5K again a couple of Saturdays ago for the fight against breast cancer. It was the perfect day for it. And we all finished!

~ * ~

•  A Walk in the Park


Jeff and Morgan (~6 months)

After the race, we hiked on Monte Sano Mountain together. We got in a lot of steps that day. (Everyone slept well that night.)

~ * ~

•  “Prayer, Love, Food . . . in that order”


“Prayer, Love, Food . . . in that order” is the motto for House of the Harvest every Saturday morning in our community. So this picture is a frequent sight after free groceries are loaded into cars.

~ * ~

•  Reading Time


Terita and Aleesa

This sweet young author read her published book to Jenna’s 1st graders a few weeks ago, The Day I Met Walt. I’ll write a blog post soon about the story behind the story because it’s a beautiful one.

~ * ~

•  Happy Halloween

Halloween 2017

Jeff & Lisa. Jenna & Trey

Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday. But Jeff and I tried to get in the spirit for our extended family’s Halloween party. We pulled out his old referee shirts from back in the day. Jenna and Trey were a deer and deer hunter (he nabbed his prey).

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

5 Things on the Blog

* * *

What was one of your highlights from October? What are you looking forward to in November? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

sharing with Lyli, Dawn, Deb, SusanAlisa, Dawn,
Debbie, Brenda, Crystal

Need to Stretch? {Mark the Moment Series #4}

This is part 4 of 5 posts, How to Mark the Moment. It’s based on Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments. This week we look at element 3, “Moments of Insight.”

Stretch Out-Insight

Element 3, Moments of Insight

Want to Be Stretched?

  • Sometimes we wish our pants would stretch after a heavy dinner.
  • Or that a family member would stretch their political views.
  • Or that we could stretch past our same old fears.

So how can we stretch others or ourselves?

Stretching often comes from moments of insight, a third element in The Power of Moments.

Moments of Insight – Deliver realizations and transformations.

But we can’t exactly create an insight; we can’t manufacture an epiphany.

However, we can set up the environment for an insight to happen.

“Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality.”

If you’ve ever wanted someone to understand your point of view, but you can’t get it across, or wanted an aha! moment to help you make a decision, here are some tips that can help you.

To Stretch Others, Show Something

If there’s something you want another person to see, telling them doesn’t always work. They need to see it for themselves.

Authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath suggest this:

Set up an environment so the person trips over the truth.

First, make the problem really clear. People need to understand a problem before they’ll look at the solution. When a group of researchers wanted a remote village in India to understand that their poor sanitation practices were creating sickness, they staged a walk with the villagers to all the places they used as public restrooms.

They had to discover the problem themselves to believe it.

Second, only through a series of activities along the way, did the villagers finally see for the first time how devastating their hygiene habits were, and were thus open to a solution.

Likewise, if we have something we want to teach, we also would be more successful if we could do this:

Design activities so they’ll catch their foot (or brain) on something and then stumble over the truth themselves.

Don’t just share findings; replicate the discovery.

To Stretch Yourself, Take a Risk

But if we’re the ones in the dark, we can’t replicate the discovery if we don’t yet know what it is.

So how can we stretch ourselves? The Heath brothers suggest this:

Put yourself in a situation that exposes you to a risk of failure.

We’re more likely to have an aha! moment outside our comfort zone. We don’t grow from only head knowledge; we need to take action.

“Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action.”

We don’t have to do it alone. We can invite other people to push us outside ourselves: trainers, coaches, mentors, pastors. They can hold us to higher standards, assure us when we doubt, give us direction and support when we’re uncertain.

“What may be counterintuitive is that self-insight rarely comes from staying in our heads. Research suggests that reflecting or ruminating on our thoughts and feelings is an ineffective way to achieve true understanding.”

But ultimately the decision is still ours:

To grow, push toward risk, not away.

Taking risks don’t always pay off in the way we’d like. The result may not be a success as we’d normally define it. But even a failure can teach us something.

“Better to take a risk, try something, and distill the answer from experience rather than from navel-gazing.”

This story is shared in The Power of Moments about a child remembering her father’s question at the dinner table:

“When Blakely and her brother were growing up, her father would ask them a question every week at the dinner table:

‘What did you guys fail at this week?’”

‘If we had nothing to tell him, he’d be disappointed,’ Blakely said. ‘The logic seems counterintuitive, but it worked beautifully.’”

Blakely’s father wanted to normalize failure as proof that at least his kids were trying new things. And that failing was okay.

“His attitude taught me to define failure as not trying something I want to do instead of not achieving the right outcome.”

Trust God with Your Moments

Although The Power of Moments doesn’t speak directly to faith issues, as believers in God we can see this spiritual truth: when we step out in faith, we show God we trust him. Not just trust him for successful outcomes, but trust him with all our moments. And that grows our faith.

No one wants to stagnate; we all want to grow. But growth requires us to put ourselves out there. Experience more, go in new directions, enlarge our circles.

By learning to stretch for moments of insight, we can influence the lives of others and our own.

“The promise of stretching is not success, it’s learning.”

* * *

What’s an aha! moment you’ve had? Have you had a mentor who helped you grow? Please share in the comments.


The Four (EPIC) Elements of Marking the Moment:

On the Blog – October 2017

Summaries and links to blog posts for October 2017

  • Six Books I Recommend – October 2017 (10/30)
    Recommended reading from books I finished in October 2017
  • Create More Finish Lines {Mark the Moment Series, #3} (10/25)
    By creating more finish lines, we increase our moments of accomplishment and opportunities to celebrate. Part 3 of Mark the Moment Series.
  • 3 Ways to Listen So People Will Talk (10/23)
    Do you know how to listen so people will talk? 3 ways to quiet down so we can hear the hearts of others. Review of Becky Harling’s new book.
  • How to Enhance an Experience {Mark the Moment Series, #2} (10/18)
    How can you make a special experience even more memorable? See how to elevate an experience from The Power of Moments. Part 2 of Mark the Moment Series.
  • Do You Know Me? (10/16)
    Why do you look familiar? God plants himself in each of us. We are all family here.
  • We’re All Messy – Book Review Of Mess and Moxie (10/13)
    We’re all a mess. That’s okay. For a mix of both funny and serious, read Jen Hatmaker’s Of Mess and Moxie.
  • How to Mark the Moment {Series Intro #1} (10/11)
    One defining moment can change everything. We don’t have to wait for them to happen. Create your own. Quotes from The Power of Moments.
  • Just Say You’re Sorry (10/9)
    When Julie said, “I’m sorry” to Anna, I saw Jesus in her. I want to see more of Jesus in me. Maybe I need to say “I’m sorry” more often, too.
  • Hurricanes R Us – Adventures in Florida (10/4)
    They were waiting for Irma, an expected but unwanted visitor. Two weeks later, more strangers show up. Now we’re family.
  • Links, Books, and Things I Love – October 2017 (10/2)
    Links and pictures of articles, books, and things I love for October 2017

Six Books I Recommend – October 2017

Here are six books I recommend from what I read in October. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.


Books I Recommend

1. Braving the Wilderness
The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
by Brené Brown


We may feel more disconnected than ever when we watch the news. But Brené Brown is here again to remind us we can brave the wilderness of uncertainty by understanding how we truly belong. Lots of good stories, examples, and insights.

“We seem to have forgotten that even when we’re utterly alone, we’re connected to one another by something greater than group membership, politics, and ideology—that we’re connected by love and the human spirit. No matter how separated we are by what we think and believe, we are part of the same spiritual story.”

2. Independent Publishing for Christian Authors
A Guide to the Why, When, and How for Writers
by Ed Cyzewski


I personally have no plans to publish a book, but if you might—or know someone who will—this is an informative look at the publishing industry from someone who knows. Ed Cyzewski has published both through commercial Christian routes and independently. Here he explains the differences and his recommendations. My review to come. This book is not yet published, but watch for it.

Pre-order the ebook now for $0.99.

“For all of the challenges that independent authors face, the good news is that actually producing an independent book isn’t that difficult today.”

My full book review of Independent Publishing for Christian Authors

3. How to Listen So People Will Talk
Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections
by Becky Harling


If only we could listen. This book shows us practical ways to improve our listening skills so we can improve our relationships. Becky Harling writes from a Christian viewpoint, using examples of Jesus’s listening abilities to encourage us.

My book review and quotes, “3 Ways to Listen So People Will Talk”

“Let your friends tell their stories. It’s okay if they get a few details wrong. They don’t need you to be the fact police. Instead, let it go.”

4. Born a Crime
Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah


This memoir is by the comedian and nightly host of The Daily Show. Trevor Noah was born to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father in apartheid South Africa. Because such a union was illegal at the time, Trevor’s life was one adventure after another. This book is both funny and sobering in his account of growing up in a dangerous world.

“I believed that Fufi was my dog, but of course that wasn’t true. Fufi was a dog. I was a boy. We got along well. She happened to live in my house. That experience shaped what I’ve felt about relationships for the rest of my life: You do not own the thing that you love.”

5. Of Mess and Moxie
Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life
by Jen Hatmaker


I have mixed feelings about this book because the structure is so loose, but when the insights fall into place, it’s worth the messiness you wade through to find them.

My book review and quotes, “We’re All Messy”

“When in doubt, ask yourself: What would love feel like here, to this person?”

6. Hunger
A Memoir of (My) Body
by Roxanne Gay


If you’re overweight, read this book. If you’re underweight, or the “perfect” weight, also read it. It’s tough at times, but it’s so valuable. Beautifully written, Roxanne Gay shows us how it feels to live in an overweight body classified as “morbidly obese.”

“Before I got on the plane, my best friend offered me a bag of potato chips to eat, but I denied myself that. I told her, ‘People like me don’t get to eat food like that in public,’ and it was one of the truest things I’ve ever said.”

Reading Now

  • The Four Tendencies
    The Indispensable Personality Profiles that Reveal How to Make Your Life Easier (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)
    by Gretchen Rubin
  • The Righteous Mind
    Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
    by Jonathan Haidt
  • Downsizing the Family Home
    What to Save, What to Let Go
    by Marni Jameson
  • The Sense of Style
    The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
    by Steven Pinker
  • Dream Hoarders
    How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It
    by Richard V. Reeves
  • How to Think
    A Survival Guide for a World at Odds
    by Alan Jacobs
  • Memory Rescue
    Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most
    by Daniel G. Amen
  • The Sacred Enneagram
    Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
    by Christopher L. Heuertz

* * *

What good book have you read lately? Please share in the comments.


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