You might have noticed that on Fridays I have started to link up with Lisa-jo Baker (lisajobaker.com) pretty consistently. She hosts a Five Minute Friday blog prompt and it has been a great way to connect with others (online) around the country. It is easy to feel like you’re operating in a vacuum when your little blog gets few comments, and when blogging is something you quietly plug away at with the hopes it will matter someday. Five Minute Friday is one way I’ve found to connect with others who are also exploring this blogging thing in various ways, and if you are at all interested in finding encouragement and really great people, I suggest you check it out.
Here’s how it works. Check her site for the word prompt. Start your timer. Write for five minutes and five minutes only. Don’t worry about it all making sense or being perfect. This is an exercise whose goal is to release you from all that doubt. Write for the fun of it. Now link it up so we can all benefit from your unedited brilliance.
Today’s prompt: Story.
I can’t think of this word without Donald Miller’s book jumping into my head. Love him or hate him (or somewhere in between) he wrote a compelling book about story, and about changing your life’s story, Million Miles in A Thousand Years.
It informs the way I talk about family with my children.
See, as a kid it never dawned on me that I had a contribution to make to the ethos of my family. All my parent’s lines of “He’s your brother so he’s your best friend” fell on mostly deaf ears. I focused only on myself and on how I could relate to people outside my household, and didn’t pay much attention to how I related to my younger siblings (I’m oldest of four kids). Mostly they annoyed me and I tolerated them with the aggrieved air of my teenaged angst.
When my husband and I talk about family with our three kids today, we talk about creating the kind of family you want. We talk about their role as co-creators. We talk about all members having an important role to play. We talk about how one person doesn’t get to decide for the whole family what that family is going to be like.
They have a voice.
And because they have a voice, that gives them some power. Their input is valued.
Is this family a democracy?
It’s a dictatorship, with my husband and I as benevolent tyrants.
And we explain.
And we encourage.
And we try again.
Our family is not a set in stone family, one that has rules and traditions that must.not.be.broken. We try stuff, we let it go, we forget, we pick it up again if it worked, if it didn’t, we cast it aside and let it roll under the couch along with the other rogue Legos, single socks and tumbleweeds. But we all have a role to play. The story that is our family will be shared by my husband and I as well as Rex, Bobo and Princess Teacup. Maybe not equally shared yet, but shared and co-created alongside our Creator.
What was your role in your family growing up? What kind of story you are creating with your life every day? What is one way today you could create the life-story you desire?
A Review of Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
While trying to come up with books to review, I discovered that I have a few that I just can’t get enough of. Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is one of those books. I’ve only read it through one time, but I’ve picked it up and read bits and pieces here and there since then, simply because it is so full of insight.
Donald Miller tends to be somewhat sarcastic, sometimes snarky, and self-depreciating. While in his earlier books these characteristics got to be tedious, making me cringe to read the mean things he said to the people he encountered, this book is less filled with those things and more focused on changing his story. I must say that throughout his previous work he was honest about being a jerk, though, and most of the jerks I know don’t realize it about themselves. Anyway, it sounds like he needed the change, and we get to be a party to the steps of his transformation.
The part that jumps out at me when thinking about this book is the point he makes and proves with his own life about choosing one’s story. He gets off his couch and starts challenging himself to do some crazy stuff that he’s never done before, stuff that he is scared of, stuff he’s not sure he can actually do. And we get the privilege of watching what happens to him. It’s great. But besides the voyeuristic pleasure there is in hearing about this guy joining a group to ride across the country on a bicycle with very little advanced training (just as one example), we get to see how this changes who he is, changes his story. And it is more than just “creating memories” although there is value in that aspect as well. He discovers things about himself and about others that he never would have known if he hadn’t made the essential decision to take a risk and invest in his own story, his own life.
Just to give you one little snipett, in one portion of the book he re-tells a scene that happened to a friend of his who had a teen-aged daughter who was making crummy choices: dating a questionable guy, telling lies, and generally veering from the path her parents had laid out for her. The dad reviews the situation and realizes that he has not offered his daughter a better story to be a part of. Then he does something about it. He offers his daughter the chance to be a part of something better, something more meaningful and interesting and worthwhile. And she quits her previous behaviors and jumps in to this new endeavor with both feet.
I love it. I loved the imagery of the adventures Miller and his friends take on. Even though the book includes a lot of sitting around or waking up late and then sitting around, this helps to contrast Miller’s old life with the one he is striving to create for himself. Which of us makes a resolution and immediately casts off our old habits or vices? That’s what makes this book authentic. The author doesn’t pretend that he has immediately arrived once he decides to liven things up, and that gives me more of a chance to connect with him and what he’s trying to accomplish; I too have tried to turn over many new leaves, only to find them flipped back over a few weeks later. But Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is good at inspiring me to flip over just one leaf and see what that can do for me and those around me; my family and friends, even those I meet just in passing. It challenges me to be purposeful about my life and decide consciously what I want it to be about.
It’s a worthy read, and one that I think you’ll come back to over and over again.