boats in the middle of a large ocean

My 2019 Mid-Year Checkpoint Plus My Massive Collection of Quotes

It happened. We’re now over halfway through the year 2019.

Unlike last year, I’ve pulled back from the pace at which I reflect back and look forward (at least in writing them on this blog). This created space contributed to my focus on finishing the repayment of our student loans, and the completion of my next book.

And, it allowed me the energy to work on writing out my second longest article ever (The first being this one about the Last Jedi) as I reflected on the college repayment journey.

This student loan completion step is part of the creation of our new life. On top of rebuilding my career and building a strong financial foundation (while writing two books,), we’ve also bought a house, purchased a minivan, had two MORE kids (five total), and switched churches/communities.

This was done in five years, which is a bit baffling (and awesome) considering we were financially starting from scratch to make it happen. God was doing a great deal of the heavy lifting, and I'm super grateful because it's been hard even with His direct and indirect influence.

For the remainder of this checkpoint update, I'll revisit the initial goals set up for the year in January, the progress I've made (or not made), and a series of quotes I've been collecting. Let's start with the completion of a major financial milestone.

Completing Our Student Loans

We finished paying off our student loans!

But, like wearing a heavy backpack on an extended hike, it takes time to feel the burden completely lifted.

The emotions of the accomplishment seemed to have peaked a few weeks after as I broke down crying (with appreciation, sorrow, and overwhelm) while visiting one my client's offices. It was an unexpected and positive experience.

But as the weight of this milestone has become more visceral, the emotions of both its relief and implications (anguish from the reality of the decisions we made) both surfaced. In a moment of panic, I felt as if life going forward would not change and I’d be carrying this burden without relief indefinitely (an unending punishment). I had hoped for a better future for myself, my marriage, my family, and community.

It turns out, I’m wrestling with my earlier self, the version of me who started this journey. I'm conflicted with his choices in life. While I’m glad to be a better version of me now, it's created some tension with the past version of me. Reconciling the two while also demonstrating grace and appreciation for past me is no quick task. As the difficulty of this challenge fades with time, and I rest and rejuvenate from the toiled path, I suspect I'll be able to view and reflect on it with much more generous eyes.

But, while this marks a major milestone in this closing chapter, there's one other major moment that seems to be the final door to close as part of us moving into the new future we've helped create and embrace. The self-publishing of my second book.

Book Progress With The Jump

In the mentioned emotional breakdown from the previous section, it was a friend who made the comment about how publishing the book was symbolic of me making the Jump. I not only was writing about the process but was also demonstrating the change in my own journey.

I have made the jump.

Publishing this second book will be a symbolic step in the conclusion of this current chapter, and further healing and clarity form the previous one.

The Jump is a book about both my journey with Noodlehead Marketing, but also the one working with other small business owners that followed.

On a practical front, the book has helped me to codify my offering, while also building credibility working with entrepreneurs.

I've also begun working on the landing page, which will live here on this website (as opposed to living on another domain). The physical book is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

In regards to the actual publishing progress, I'm now in the middle of a small break working on the book’s manuscript. I’ve read it numerous times making tweaks and improvements. I’ve also had several folks read and provide feedback to make it better (if you’re interested in joining in, let me know).

The book is now near completion. I’ll revisit it towards the end of the month, run it through Grammarly (affiliate link), and do a final read of it physically with all my new graphics (being created during this editing break).

Freelancing Work Update: Sustaining Income, Working Fewer Hours, And Taking Days Off

Thankfully, freelance work (although I do have an opening of 20-30 hours this month in July) has been steady and a terrific vocational path to earn a great income and deliver strong value to my clients.

With the student loans coming to a close, there was fear things would turn south before we could finish the task. Now, if that happens we've got significantly more margin to work around the unexpected.

With an amount of work on my plate to meet and exceed my monthly and annual goals for freelancing, I've been stuttering just short of the goal of 117 paid client hours per month. I'm averaging 112, five short. Part of this is due to me now strictly ensuring I take one me weekday off each month. But, it's also the wear of the student loans, the lessening of pressure to succeed, and the additional distractions.

I'm curious to see how this trend continues in the second half of the year, and whether I'll have more or less energy to stay focused and hit these top tier goals. Publishing the book will be part of the challenge to juggle this all.

An additional update about my freelance offering is, tightening the screws on what it is I'm offering my clients. In evaluating what value I bring to the table, and how this unfolds over the next several years, I've identified two areas I'm focusing on with my clients; growing platforms and people.

Here's what that means within the context of growing income, teams, and founders from the inside-out.

Growing Platforms

  1. Content Marketing: Content creation (blogs and landing pages), network promotion (with an SEO bent), and conversion optimization (landing pages and lead magnets).
  2. Technical Support: Hubspot, Joomla, SEO, and presentation design (sales, investor, and event decks).

Growing People

  1. Leadership Augmentation: Coaching (business, marketing, communication, and personal development), managing special projects and teams (virtual employees and contractors), and live facilitation (vision discovery and strategic initiative prioritization).
  2. Talent Development: Leading the organizational initiative to build self-starting students and teachers by creating lasting leaders, robust relationships, and cohesive cultures.

This takes what I've currently got on my services page, and further consolidates it. It also highlights and positions these elements in a way that taps into my strengths and experiences while also paving the future path.

Side Projects, Working Hours, Blogging, And Content Distribution Testing

From the start of the year through the middle of May, I've consistently published new blog posts here, but since then this will only be my third post putting my back to about a month per article. This has created a month-long break between my last May post, and my June post about the student loan completion. I'll be interested in adding data about how this affected my Google rankings and traffic between posts.

Over the next few weeks, I suspect my blog will receive less action, but as I get closer to completion of the book, and the promotional materials, I'll shift gears towards promotion. When that happens, I'll be gearing up the activity here on the blog.

While my goal with all side projects, including the blog and book, is to contain my time working on them into my blocked off work day, I've made progress but I'm not quite there. 

And, I have been testing out several content distribution ideas, some of which have fostered some fruit, but all of which require a bit more time to make happen, and to collect data for review. 

Checking In On Other Goals & Changes

With the main things out of the way, let me provide a quick update on the other goals and a few more changes worth noting here.

  • Exercise, Fasting, and Analog Nights: Exercise has not made any progress, and after doing the fasting the first three months, I've fallen off the wagon. Analog nights has been hit and miss, but there has not been an active consistent behavior here. I feel a bit roadblocked with the large book project on my shoulders. To make emotional and mental room for these other goals is going to require I finish that project.
  • Marked Up Bible For The Kids: I started this and am excited about it, but it's looking more like this will mostly roll later into the year or next.
  • Scheduled One-On-One Time With Wife (and kiddos): This continues regularly with the kids but has been sporadic with the wife. We're working on some gears to help make this more realistic going forward, but it is challenging with five kids.
  • Fully Engaged At Gwinnett Church: I continue to volunteer as a greeter and am exploring the co-leading of our small group.
  • Update To Irresistible Book Commentary: I've added my commentary on section two of the book (about the origin of Christianity and the future of the church). I'm looking forward to exploring and sharing section three, but it that will probably not happen until August.
  • Updating the Menu System: You'll notice up above that I've updated the menu. There is now a toolbar menu for several important sections while the main menu is focused on the blog and its primary sections. It's part of my effort to more effectively position and present the content on this website.

Notable Quote Collection

With over six months since I've last shared my collection of quotes, I've got quite a slew of them for you. Check out the numerous quotes below as my final send-off for this update.

  1. “It is the apparent folly of the truth that stands in the way of hundreds who have been convicted by the Spirit of God.” - Oswald Chambers
  2. "My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?" C.S. Lewis
  3. "The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance." - Oswald Chambers
  4. “A man may drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more so because he drinks.” - George Orwell
  5. "It is easier to be an excessive fanatic than it is to be consistently faithful, because God causes an amazing humbling of our religious conceit when we are faithful to Him." - Oswald Chambers
  6. "The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption." - Oswald Chambers
  7. "We are not to preach the doing of good things; good deeds are not to be preached, they are to be performed." - Oswald Chambers
  8. "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires." King David of Israel
  9. "To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true." Oswald Chambers
  10. "To put these complicated matters into very simple terms, you create a cycle virtually anytime you borrow money. Buying something you can’t afford [out of your capital or cash—JM] means spending more than you make. You’re not just borrowing from your lender; you are borrowing from your future self. Essentially, you are creating a time in the future in which you will need to spend less than you make so you can pay it back. The pattern of borrowing, spending more than you make, and then having to spend less than you make very quickly resembles a cycle. This is as true for a national economy as it is for an individual. Borrowing money sets a mechanical, predictable series of events into motion." - Ray Dalio
  11. "Hate is a bottomless cup; I will pour and pour Euripides." - Euripides
  12. “The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute.” - Oswald Chambers
  13. "Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people." - Oswald Chambers
  14. "But most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them." Oswald Chambers
  15. “Calling the crowd to join his disciples, Jesus said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
  16. "What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery." - Oswald Chambers
  17. “Hope looks forward. Faith knows it has already received and acts accordingly.” — Florence Shinn
  18. "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did." John the Apostle
  19. "If we trust in our own abilities, instead of God’s, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible." Oswald Chambers
  20. “People who don’t have time to learn always find time to make the same mistakes again and again. They go fast but not far." - Shane Parrish
  21. “My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?” - C.S. Lewis
  22. "Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it." -Don Herold
  23. "Legalism is characterized by an attitude of exclusivity. It suggests that we are right in our position and others are wrong. Walking in grace has expanded my perception of the church. No group of Christians has a clear focus on all the truth. One group may have a better understanding of one part of the truth, while another group has a clearer understanding of another aspect of spiritual truth. That's why we need each other. " Steve McVey
  24. “The prophetic task of the church is to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair.” - Walter Brueggemann
  25. "We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ"  - Oswald Chambers
  26. “The hardest part of the journey to personalized success isn’t adopting the new mindset…it’s letting go of the old one.” - Todd Rose
  27. "If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth." - Oswald Chambers
  28. "Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind." - Oswald Chambers
  29. "If you can develop a knee-jerk reaction to pain that is to reflect rather than to flight or flee, it will lead to your rapid learning/evolving." - Ray Dalio
  30. “We are most prone to vilify the sins we struggle with the least.” - Preston Sprinkle
  31. "The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable." Arthur Schopenhauer
  32. "One of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world." Oswald Chambers
  33. The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process." - Oswald Chambers
  34. "Pride flees when we compare ourselves to God instead of other people." - Billy Graham
  35. "Everyone says they want community and deep friendship. However, because it takes accountability and commitment we run the other way." - Tim Keller
  36. “Time is savage. It always wins.” Michelle Burnham, Star Trek Discovery
  37. "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
  38. “To create fear, hold up a mirror.“ -Mi-Go Monk Adage
  39. “Core distinction between Christianity and Atheism is the bodily resurrection of Jesus”. - Jordan Peterson
  40. "Being saved and seeing Jesus are not the same thing." - Oswald Chambers
  41. “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” - Simon and Garfunkel
  42. "If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” - Banksy
  43. "Saying yes to everything is a quick road to mediocrity" - Shane Parish
  44. "The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” - Moses
  45. "Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others." - Oswald Chambers
  46. "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." - Paul the Apostle
  47. “Emotional indignation is not a substitute for informed thinking.” -  Bernard Cornwell
  48. “The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.” - Steven Pressfield
  49. “Clarity = Speed.”  -  Ken Perlman
  50. "When you have a dream, you're in the air, not down to earth. When you have a vision, you have a plan. When you have a plan, you share your vision with the people and delegate responsibilities." - Vladimir Berrio-Lem
  51. "A vision is a desired future state." - Dr. Henry Cloud
  52. "We don't build monuments to trolls." - Steve Jobs
  53. "When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see truth, just like you did." - Jill Blakeway
  54. “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” - Soviet nuclear physicist Valery Legasov (Chernobyl HBO Series)
  55. "Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing." - Andy Stanely
  56. "Christianity stands alone among the major religions of the world in encouraging a free market exchange and testing of ideas and beliefs" - Hugh Ross
  57. "Complaining is not a strategy. You have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be." - Jeff Bezos
  58. "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living." - Annie Dillard
  59. "A person’s character determines how he interprets God’s will." - Oswald Chambers
  60. "History has shown when the oppressed has gained power, they often become oppressors themselves." - Tim Mackie
  61. "If you're the problem, it also means you're the solution" - Dave Ramsey
  62. "We have learned that...the past will be a poor guide to the future and that we shall forever be dealing unanticipated events. Given that scenario, organizations... will need individuals who delight in the unknown." - Charles Handy
  63. "For every complex problem, there is a simple solution that is elegant, easy to understand, and wrong." - H.L. Mencken
  64. "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." - H.G. Wells
  65. “The trouble with jogging is that, by the time you realize you're not in shape for it, it's too far to walk back.” - Franklin Jones

Hero Photo by Matthew Feeney on Unsplash

Tags: Monthly Reflection Point

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