Category Archives: Purple Crayon

What you can learn from my blogging fails

I love it when bloggers are transparent and generous.

These qualities vary from person to person, but they are characteristic of many successful bloggers.

And it isn’t always the success stories that are most instructive.

Sometimes it’s the fails.

My biggest fail in the last 6 months is trying to get an email list off the ground.

I’ve made two attempts and fallen flat on my face both times.

What’s the problem?

I get hung up on technical issues that prevent me from moving forward.

I can’t keep up with a regular posting schedule and still add something new.

I miss deadlines and get discouraged.

I don’t take into account busy seasons of the year when I can’t get much accomplished.

I’ve also struggled with finding clarity for my blog and staying focused.

So what can you and I learn from by blogging fails?

Learning what doesn’t work is a win.  

Thomas Edison is famous for realizing that every time he discovered which materials didn’t work to make a light bulb, he was one step closer to discovering what did.

Finding out what doesn’t work is valuable.

It’s not a failure if it’s a learning experience.

Run your own race.

This nugget from Jeff Goins  has been echoing in my head recently.

This is true even if your race has false starts. Even if people can see your fails. Being transparent and humble are both qualities that people admire.

I think comparing our lives to others is a bigger temptation than ever due to prolific social media.

Some blogs gain traction and a following and an income quickly.

Mine has not.

My blogging journey doesn’t look like anyone else’s. I’ve had a hard time getting clarity on why I’m writing and who I’m writing for. Progress has been slower than I’d hoped.

It’s okay if my journey looks different.  It’s okay if progress is slow.

I like reading Victoria from Snail Pace Transformations for this very reason. Slow progress is still progress. Moving forward inch by inch takes a clear vision and tons of perseverance.

Don’t beat yourself up for missing goals.

It’s better than not trying at all.

It’s the man in the arena who will get criticized, not the spectator on the sidelines.

Sometimes failing means you’re trying. Trying is commendable.

Failure is not final. Keep getting up.

It’s hard to keep running after a fall.

But getting up is critical.

You can’t finish the race if you don’t get up.

You can’t run your own race if you don’t get up.

Don’t lose heart.  Don’t stay down.  Slow and steady wins.




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Five Minute Friday: Motivate

I’ve missed Five Minute Friday.  It’s good to be back.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

I’ve fallen off the exercise bandwagon countless times. Also, countless times I’ve started new programs.

So, I didn’t anticipate that this time would be so hard.

Just like a rocket leaving earth’s gravity, getting started takes more momentum than continuing on.

It took a lot of pieces to get a new exercise program off the ground this time.

I needed a strong why to overcome resistance.

I needed help overcoming the technical obstacles.

I needed new shoes.

I needed to work and re-work my schedule (and re-work it again) to pull it off.

I needed a time-bound goal to work for: running a 5K on March 25th.

Motivate has a lot of components. I forgot how complex it was.


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Books for Intro to Missions Students

Book List for Intro to World Missions 

When Pete taught Intro to World Missions, I made a book list of recommended books for his class.  Most of these are life long favorites that I recommend repeatedly.

Missionary Biographies

Brucko by Bruce Olson

Nineteen year old Bruce Olson lives with a stone age tribe to bring them the gospel.

Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees by Thomas Hale

Medical missionaries in Nepal. Humorous, well-written stories about culture and personal growth.

On the Far Side of Liglig Mountatin by Thomas Hale

More stories of medical missions in Nepal.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott

Five missionaries were martyred in Ecuador while trying to reach a savage tribe.  Written by the widow of one of the martyrs.

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliott

The story of Amy Carmichal, missionary to India who rescued girls from the atrocities of the Hinduism.

And the Word Came with Power by Joann Shetler

Wycliffe Bible Translator in the Philippines explains about culture and spiritual lessons.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

One man’s experiences getting God’s Word into Communist Russia.

Other Biographies

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

A Christian family in Holland hides Jews from the Nazis.  Stories of imprisonment and forgiveness.

Joni by Joni Eareckson

A diving accident at age 17 leaves Joni a quadriplegic.  Her spiritual journey.

The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway

A Christian pastor in China sees God work miracles in the midst of harsh persecution.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Quereshi

Nabeel’s spiritual journey growing up in a devout Muslim home and confronting the realities of Chrisitanity.

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

A transparent look at the culture of poverty how a single mom paved a way out for her two sons.

Other Helpful Books

5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The five top reasons why teams don’t work and what to do about them.

Reading Personality by Anne Bogel

Short summaries of some popular personality frameworks and how understanding yourself makes life better.

On Being a Missionary by Thomas Hale

Transparent, practical explanation of what missionaries face and common obstacles to overcome.

Margin by Richard Swenson

The importance of not using all your resources and leaving yourself bankrupt.  Includes money, time, emotional and other resources.

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches

What men and women need from their spouses.  Foundational understanding for building a strong marriage.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The five main ways people express love and how to understand which way communicates best to individuals.

Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel

Common pitfalls that leaders fall into.  Helpful as a cautionary tale.

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet

Healthy, effective leadership principles learned and practiced by a sub commander.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Timeless principles for living life well with yourself and others.

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brent Harris

Aimed at teenagers as a challenge to confront the status quo and impact the world by taking the high road.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider

Tsh and her husband took their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

A challenge to live gratefully by systematically noting what you’re thankful for. Written in poetic style.

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What are the elements of community?


I’ve been thinking about community versus isolation.

Community is the safety net that keeps us from hitting the ground. It’s the people that we connect to, identify with and a place to belong.

It’s the place where we feel understood and known.

It’s the Cheers Bar–where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.

It’s where you share life. You walk the road together. It’s your tribe. Your home base.

At birth all the communities you belong to are chosen for you.  But, there comes a time in the journey when you accept or reject the communities you inherited and, potentially, seek out new ones.

I believe this process is more complicated for the global nomad.

Maybe because he’s been exposed to a wider variety of communities.

Maybe it’s an identity issue.

Maybe it’s the difficulty of finding a community where he feels at home.

What are the critical elements of community?  What is he looking for?







freedom to choose

a safety net

a network


shared values

The point is, the global nomad might need to actively search for a group where he feels at home.  A place where he belongs, where he can connect and be understood.

The problem is, with a new community, it’s not going to feel familiar and comfortable.

But, you have to jump in anyway and look for common ground.

To know and be known is to be vulnerable.  The risks are real.

But the risks of isolation are even greater.








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Five Minute Friday: Different

Our college kid is home!  Thankful to have him here and for a safe airport run in spite of storms blowing in.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.


I’m wondering why humans hate being different.

Is it the fear of ridicule, rejection, judgment?

Kids want to dress the same.  They want to have what their friends have.  They want to achieve the same things or one up the next guy.

We generally don’t like standing out from the crowd if it garners unwanted attention.

What would happen if we embraced our differences?   If we were truly thankful for them?  If we didn’t try to hide them?

How much bolder could we live life?

Maybe it’s a reward worth changing our mindset for.


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What I’m Reading, December 2017

One year ago today we were in California for our daughter’s college graduation.

This year is more typical: snow, basketball, busy at the store, getting ready for Christmas. Our out of state college kid is home for Christmas.  That makes mama happy.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

On to this month’s books–

Buy now from Amazon

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I’m tempted to go back and re-read this book now that I know the ending.

The plot was slow moving until all the pieces starting falling into place and it made sense.

From goodreads–

“Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal. Miranda is an ordinary sixth grader, until she starts receiving mysterious messages from somebody who knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. For ages approx 9-14.”

Buy now from Amazon

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A Chinese boy and Japanese girl are assigned to kitchen duty at their all white public school.  This is the forties and anti-Japanese sentiment is high.  Their friendship transcends prejudice.

Sweet story that takes an inside look at Asian cultures functioning in the U.S.

I liked it, even though the story was slow moving and a little predictable.

Five stars for being wholesome.  Recommended for all ages.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo tells the stories of four different children growing up in four different times and places.

They all have a love for music.

To be perfectly frank, I was underwhelmed by this book. It just left me feeling kind of flat. I could see the common thread woven throughout so it felt predictable.

None of the sequences were long enough to really identify with the characters, so it was more about plot than characters.

It’s a long book, but not necessarily a long read.

Buy now from Amazon

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

A fascinating read.

I don’t agree with everything as I have some different philosophies of life than the author does.

The books focuses on how people sabotage their own success when they hit the upper limit of what they believe they deserve in life.  There might be something to that.

I also think he’s on to something with the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence and the zone of genius.

Good mental fodder.

Buy now from Amazon

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Staner

Michael outlines seven simple questions to use while coaching.

His context is managers coaching their employees, but I think the principles are transferable to other situations.

His emphasis is on listening better, giving less advice and helping people solve their own problems.

Though simple, the questions are profound.  They build on each other and are designed to get to the heart of the matter in a short amount of time.

Insightful.  Actionable.

What are you reading this month?

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Breaking Free From the Poverty Culture: Four True Stories

I started this post thinking I had found four books that painted a realistic picture of the poverty culture.

What I didn’t realize was how much they have in common.

They are all overcomer stories.

They are all about boys who grew up with single mothers.

They outline a path of what it takes to beat the odds.

They are also well-written.

These stories stand out because they are unusual. Most boys in similar circumstances are not able to break the poverty cycle in their lives.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchases goes to support this site.)

Buy now from Amazon

Hillbilly Elegy is masterfully written.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduate from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

Buy now from Amazon

Ben Carson and his brother grew up in a single parent home in Detroit.

Ben credits his mother for the impact on his life that resulted in all of them breaking out of the poverty culture.

She valued education, discipline, the importance of reading and making wise decisions in the use of her resources.

In turn, Ben came to see poverty as a temporary state.  He could see the way out.  He developed a vision for his life.  He eventually attained some of life’s greatest successes as a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Buy now from Amazon

An inspiring story, well told.

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” This is another book that makes me philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate? Now that is a good question that I’ve been wrestling with a lot.  Who’s in control of my life, me or God?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing he latched onto when he saw a healthy family in action was the idea of everyone sitting down at a dining room table to eat together, to talk and share life.  That was missing in his home.  It just goes to prove that building a culture—even a family culture— has to do with what you value and believe, not about money.

Everything was not idyllic in Laura and Maurice’s relationship for the next thirty years.  This is real life and when is life always smooth sailing?


Buy now from Amazon

Note: Heads up for language.

I didn’t really understand apartheid until I read this book.

Seeing how it played out in people’s lives is sobering.

Trevor Noah has a white father and a black mother.  In South Africa, it was illegal for his father and mother to procreate.  His very existance was against the law, hence the title, Born a Crime.

It’s mind-blowing to think about the world and the life that Trevor Noah was born into. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for those who have a vote in their government’s laws and leaders.

I liked Noah’s personal and relatable writing style as well as the occasional political commentary.


Four boys growing up in poverty with single mothers. What did it take for them to break free?
Self-awareness? A caring adult? Purpose in life? A belief that things could be different?

I see four common factors.

  1. The involvement of a caring adult. In some cases it was their mother, sometimes it was someone else.

2.   The importance of staying in school and finishing.

3.  The belief that things could be different.

4.  A vision for their lives.

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Five Minute Friday: Only

It’s Friday!

This week brought our first snowfall, plus busy days at the store, basketball games, and all the usual December angst.

I’m amazed at how the pressure of writing for five minutes produces a different type of creativity than when I write without the pressure.

Linking up again this week with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

This week’s word is:  only.


If only . . .

Two of the saddest words in the English language.

Pregnant with regret.

Wistful to re-write history.

Because we can’t go back. We can’t make changes. All we have is the present and the future.

We cling to the promise that there is no condemnation.

That the years the locusts have eaten will be restored.

In spite of the dark clouds of the past, the future is bright.

We have hope.

We don’t have to live with regret.

We can even be grateful for the treacherous, winding trail that has brought us here.

We know how the story ends, so we don’t have to wallow in the sadness of if only . . .

Our eyes are fixed on the bright tomorrow.


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Man’s Search for Meaning

Vicktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning after surviving a stint in a Nazi concentration camp.

With a background in psychiatry, he studied the people in the camp looking for why some survived and why some gave up and died.

He found that those that had the will to live felt they had a mission in life to complete. In his own case, it was to finish the book he was writing and to see his wife again.

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone.”

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

If the runaway success of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, is any indication people are desperate to find meaning in life.

But, what Frankl proposes is not just general, but a specific, unique mission only possible to be fulfilled by an individual.

“Frankl was once asked to express in one sentence the meaning of his own life. He wrote the response on paper and asked his students to guess what he had written. After some moments of quiet reflection, a student surprised Frankl by saying, ‘The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.’
‘That was it, exactly,’ Frankl said. ‘Those are the very words I had written.'”




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If You Want To Change Your Life, Change Who You Listen To



Jim Rohn says you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Not only is this true in with real life friends, it’s also true of who we choose to listen to.

If we’re trying to change our lives, we need to be intentional about the people we spend time with and those who influence us.

Who are we listening to?  Who are we allowing to influence us?  Are they pulling us up or bringing us down?

I have been impacted by some online influencers.  Their words have changed my life.

Izabella Wentz has influenced me. Her advice has probably led to some of the more dramatic changes in my life, at least physically, but that helps emotionally, too.  She write’s about thyroid disease and how to deal with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Sarah Young influences with her devotionals, Jesus Calling and Jesus Always.

Michael Hyatt and Darren Rowse have really opened up my mind to what’s possible with blogging.

Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy gave me hope that there were great books out there that I would love.  I still have trouble finding them.  But, now I have hope.

Kayla Aimee is someone I’ve recently learned about. Through her course, I’ve learned a lot more about affiliate marketing.

I appreciate Ann Voskamp.  She’s swimming against the current of many Christian writers and I respect the way she lives out her faith.

Jeff Brown always seems to be introducing me to authors I’ve never heard of.  Some of them have a lot of good things to say.  His Read to Lead podcast has had some real winners.

Amy Lynn Andrews is someone who’s writing has been helpful and someone I admire as a person.  She writes about blogging and online business.

Jeff Goins has been very influential in my life.   His book, Real Artists Don’t Starve is a game-changer. I’ve learned a lot from his blog, his podcast and Tribe Conference 2017.  He is a thought leader.

Tsh Oxenrider, Crystal Paine and Ruth Soukup have impacted me.  All of them are pioneer bloggers with very different paths to success in the blogosphere.

I also just started listening to Hans Finzel. Pete and I loved his book, Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make and he has a lot of life and leadership wisdom.

Victoria at Snail Pace Transformations has given me hope about moving forward slowly.  It’s hard when you don’t see much visible progress.  I’m inspired by her stories to keep moving forward, inch by inch.

Ray Edwards is someone I respect.  His forte is copywriting, but he ventures into some other areas as well.  

Pat Flynn is a superstar in the online space, but I appreciate his transparency and humility.

The bottom line is there’s a lot of good guys out there.  Many are generous and insightful.  There’s so much available for little or no money.

Check them out!


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