In Honor of National Book Lover’s Day

National Book Lover’s Day was observed this past Sunday, August 9, 2015. As usual, I was not aware of this auspicious day until it had arrived, so I’m writing this a few days after the fact. Nevertheless, I thought this presented a good opportunity to mention a few books that I have especially loved this year. I’ve not been reading as much as I would like (do book lovers ever read as much as they would like to?), but one of my goals this year was to stay clear of mediocre books. Why read mediocre when there is so much better out there? Because better is out there – sometimes it’s hard to find. And it is quite difficult for me to not finish a book I start, because maybe it will get better, maybe I haven’t gotten to the good part yet, but I must stay strong and say no to mediocrity, even if it means I can’t list a half-read book on my running tab of all I’ve read. But I digress.

Out of my very short list of books I’ve actually read this year, here are my top five, not necessarily ranked in any particular order, except for the first one of course.

1. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (2015)

If you know very much about me at all, you’ll know I am a hopeless fan of Jen’s. She is grace and strength and humor, and maybe the two things I love most are her authenticity and her love for Jesus. She just wrote this bit of grace and it’s set to be released next week, next week ya’ll (maybe I’ve been hanging out with her crowd a bit the last while) and you should really get this book. Pre-order it and you’ll get it the second it’s released, like it should be on your doorstep on the 18th. Unless you order from Barnes and Noble, where it’s already on the shelves and in people’s mailboxes and on people’s actual doorsteps. That’s about all I can say about that right now, because I’m supposed to wait to talk about this till next week. But seriously, I’ve had some of the best experiences with about 500 women in the last four months I’ve ever had because well, I was somehow, someway privileged to be in on the launch team, and what a team it is. We will be friends for life, For the Love!

2. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)

This was a surprise book for me. My daughter was reading it and as it was laying around the house I picked it up one day on a whim. I was hooked from page one. Written as a free-verse narrative, the language is beautiful, rich and dense. A poignant read that tugs at the heart-strings, it is young girl’s perspective on fleeing the only home she has ever known and living as a refugee. While it is a book aimed at children in grades 4-8, it is literary in nature and will stand the test of time. An easy one-sitting read, it is one I will go back to again and again. It’s a great book to read with your children and has many opportunities for starting conversations around diverse and meaningful topics.

3. Malestrom by Carolyn Custis James (2015)

This newest book by James is timely and so important and needed in the world we live in. She addresses the challenges, and indeed the crisis, of manhood in our society and in our churches, calling all of us, both men and women, back to what God had in mind from the foundations of the world. I hear so often the sigh of resignation that that’s just the way things are because of the Fall and it will be this way until Jesus returns. James says no, and I concur. Jesus has already come and He has come to set things right to some measure, to upend the systems of the world, which includes the system of patriarchy. If you think patriarchy is okay, this book will make you very uncomfortable. Patriarchy was never God’s plan and James sets out to take us back to the heart and purpose of God for men and women together.

4. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (2006)

The subtitle reads: The story of a modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together. That pretty much sums it up, really. I had a bit of a time getting into this book but about half-way through, just when I was considering abandoning it, the story takes a turn. I cried through the second half like I haven’t for a long time reading a book. Such a great story, showing what the love of Christ has the power to do in the hearts of slaves and art dealers alike, hearts just like our own. This is a terrific book and would make an excellent selection for book clubs. It’s not a new book, I’m just late to the party.

5. Paul, Women and Wives by Craig Keener (1992) 

To be honest, I debated for a while (maybe five minutes?) about putting this book on this list, but I found it so insightful that if I’m honestly listing my top books, this will have to be included. It is scholarly, although not necessarily academic, so it is fairly heavy reading, with the bibliography almost as long if not longer, than the book. To some that might be tedious, but to me it shows the amount of research that went into this work, and that it’s not just one man’s opinions. Keener does an excellent job of showing both sides of some very controversial passages and then drawing his own conclusions from thorough research and study. He brings clarity to some issues that can easily divide, although he does not come down hard on either side for the most part. This makes it even more compelling, I think, because he doesn’t try to prove any given point. He addresses some of the more difficult passages in Paul’s writings with grace and humility. Again, this book may make some uncomfortable, but I would challenge all of us to read things we disagree with periodically, because if we only read things we agree with we will not grow. This one may stretch you, but isn’t that how anyone grows, by stretching?

And what am I reading at the moment?

I have started all of these or will in the near future for classes I’m enrolled in:

Astonished by Mike Erre

The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner

The Social God and the Relational Self by Stanley J. Grenz

Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Brimstone by Hugh Halter

The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini

A Compilation of Lectures Related to Spiritual Formation

Hmm, as you can well see, I’m not into fluffy reads, or even much fiction at all. I’m open to recommendations, but please not too much fluff – it’s got to have some substance. What is your night stand or coffee table right now? I would love to know what you’re reading and how it is impacting your life. Leave a comment about a book you have read or are reading right now, you never know what might come of it – you might even be entered in a drawing for a copy of Jen’s new book, For the Love! You just never know… But you have to leave a comment. On the blog. Not on social media. But you can leave one there too if you want. All the best!

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Wilderness Wanderings

As you may or may not have noticed, this space has fallen mostly silent over the past year or so. It’s felt strange and foreign, this having no words. Somehow, no matter what is happening, no matter what comes along in life, I am usually able to wrap at least a few words around an experience. In fact, words usually help me process experience, help me make sense of and sort out the intricacies of life.

Recently though, it’s just been too much. I can’t find the words – they are not adequate to explain or portray what has been going on in my world and in my heart. Words fail sometimes; they are not enough to do justice to the experience. I think I may be catching a glimpse of what Mary the mother of Jesus did, when Scripture says she “pondered these things in her heart.” I’ve been holding “these things” close to my heart.

Because, mostly, it’s just hard to describe a wilderness journey in words. The stumbling around, the falling down, the crying out to a God who seems distant and silent yet so close at times, the whispers in the dark that are beyond explanation, the inexplicable streams in the desert, the moments when the path seems a tiny bit clearer, the days and weeks when the path has been washed out and obliterated by floods and there is no clear way forward, the fleeting moments of blinding sunlight and the months of clouds dark and low.

While it has been hard to find words to describe this journey, it has been even harder to find words to pray. I’ve found myself flat on my face, with lots of tears and no words. I have had to trust that God is able to interpret that kind of prayer – wordless, heart-wrenching prayer only He can understand. Yet through all of my wandering and stumbling and lostness, my heart prayer has been this – that I would know and experience the Presence of Christ in the wilderness more than I desire a way out of it. I have to say, this wordless prayer has been answered many times over – His Presence has sustained me. He has been, and continues to be, Faithful and True. He has sustained me, and He has changed me.

Truth-telling

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about truth-telling. Not truth-telling as opposed to telling lies, but truth-telling as in let’s be honest here and quit saying things just so everyone can stay comfortable and happy. I’ve encouraged so many friends to be truth-tellers, to their spouses, to their children, to their mothers, to their fathers, to their churches, whoever it might happen to be. Sometimes you just have to be brave and tell the truth. Sometimes you have to say how you really feel about something. Sometimes you have to tell the truth to be true to who you really are.

And like it so often happens, I too am suddenly confronted with situations that I haven’t been willing to tell the truth about for a very long time, and God is nudging me and giving opportunity to speak the truth. And let me tell you – it is hard! It’s hard to say things that might upend the way you’re perceived. It’s hard to be that brave, to say that’s not how I feel about this or that. It’s hard to be the odd-one-out. It’s hard to be misunderstood. It’s hard to shatter people’s expectations. It’s hard to be that vulnerable.

But it is so worth it.

You might feel broken to bits in the process, but it is worth it.

Those broken bits will be remade into something sacred and beautiful. That’s how God works. And that’s the promise I will cling to as I embrace truth-telling.

I pray that you will find a safe place where your truth will be heard and valued. Where it is handled with care and love. Speak your truth. There is freedom to be found.

Sometimes we have to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Be brave.

On Fighting Tough Battles and Dying Daily

In the weeks leading up to several events that are the among the highlights of the year for me, the IF:Gathering and a missions emphasis weekend known as Unto the Least of These Conference, it felt like even in the midst of a world gone crazy, my own little world was mostly peaceful. The planning and execution of our Local Gathering went relatively smoothly and all seemed to have gone quite well. I was reading where other IF:Local leaders found themselves under what looked to be severe spiritual attack in the weeks before and directly following the event, and I recognized I was not really identifying. I wondered if I was just slipping through unscathed, or was our event not significant enough to merit an attack or what? (Not that I was wishing for one – quite the contrary – I was feeling quite relieved.) But of course you know what’s coming – my turn has come.

This is the thing – I’ve also been teaching Sunday School and the last two months our study has been taken from the book of Job. And just this past Sunday our discussion ended on the note of how being misunderstood is so hard for some of us (I would be one of those) and I reminded my class and myself that Jesus was also misunderstood – in fact, I contend, He was misunderstood to death. And so when I’m misunderstood, I try to remember the reality of a Jesus who knows what I’m going through and how He knows what it feels like to be grossly misunderstood. And now I’m back to “this is the thing” that I started saying at the beginning of this paragraph – my contention has long been, that whatever we’re teaching, whatever we’re talking about at any given time, that is exactly where we’re going to be tested.

I’ve done it so many times – I say something like “Well, if that was me in that situation, I would do so and so and so!” And wouldn’t you know, before I know it, I find myself in a similar place, and now how will I handle it? And so on Sunday I validated the conversation about being understood and the pain of being misunderstood, and boom, no later than Monday night there’s an all-out war for my soul. What a fight it’s been – a fight to remember who I am, what I’ve been created to do and who I’m doing it for.

Couple that with a message at the missions conference about laying down our lives for the cause of Christ and His message, and it’s been a death struggle this week. The enemy fighting to take me down, me fighting to lay down my life, and Christ asking for total surrender, at the expense of everything. I’ve found again (to my horrible chagrin), that I have loved this life too much! I want to be comfortable, to have it easy, to be understood and validated, to be affirmed, to be patted on the back, when Jesus is really inviting us to take up our cross. There is nothing comfortable, easy, or feel-good about the cross, there is so much about our cross we don’t and can’t understand, and yet, that is what followers of Jesus are invited into. And somehow, s o m e h o w, the passion (the suffering) becomes the Joy! Somehow, someway, I want to be able to say with the apostles, who after being beaten and told not to speak in the name of Jesus, went from there “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Do I count it a privilege when I am in pain for the cause of Christ and His Gospel and for truth? I want to, I really do! Oh to be free of this body of death that would destroy me, and to be transfigured into a sacrifice of praise and daily dying, counting it all joy.

I know none of this is possible without the grace and mercy of Jesus and I’m so incredibly grateful today for His provision, but not only for His grace and mercy, but for His gift of Himself. As I am molded more and more into His image, that means I must give not only what I have back to Him, I must give myself back to Him.

I recognize with all clarity how my experience pales in comparison with believers who are literally losing their lives around the world for their faith, and my intention is not to diminish what is going on in the world. This is only my experience, and while it doesn’t compare, this is where I find myself right now.

One Thing I Learned at IF:Gathering and a Few Other Places

So this past weekend was the world-wide event known as IF:Gathering. Actually, I hesitate to call it an event because it’s more like a movement, or a gathering, equipping and unleashing of women for the Glory of God and the good of all people – oh wait, I guess that’s their tag-line, so that pretty much explains what IF:Gathering is. What an honor and a privilege to be able to host what is known as an IF:Local, along with 6 other wonderful servant-hearted women who love Jesus and love people. We gathered around tables with about 50 women for two days of teaching and discussion, wrestling with questions about faith and the believing-life and anything else that needed sorted out.

I have learned so much from the IF:Gathering content and I love how those involved have invited me to see and experience Jesus and the Bible in new and unexpected ways. The Gathering is always an interactive experience, which I think helps the things we hear in the teaching segments sink deeper into our bones, as we engage the content right away with those sitting at the table with us. Somehow it makes what we’re hearing more personal and it sticks better and longer.

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But I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is something that has not really been talked about all that much, if at all. I know IF:Gathering makes an effort to make this experience one that is not tied to one particular denomination or theology, with the vision of finding common ground in the places that matter most (Jesus!) and letting go of everything else. This has been incredibly refreshing and life-giving for me. While I may not have agreed theologically with everything I heard, I am choosing not to focus on what we don’t agree on. I want to take the things I heard that God was using to speak very specific things to me and let them burn deep into my heart. Furthermore, I am also choosing not to reject out-of-hand the things I may not have agreed with or the things that raised questions for me – I want to hold those things with open hands, as I ask God to show me what is true, and pure, and from His Heart, and whether this is an area He want to grow me in. I want to remember that my perspective may be different from other’s perspectives, and that simply because they’re different, it doesn’t mean that either is necessarily wrong. This is probably one of the biggest shifts for me since I’ve attended several conferences and events that embrace multiple denominations and theologies – that there is more than one way of seeing any one thing.

When you grow up believing that anyone who doesn’t believe exactly the way you do, or practice Christianity mostly the way you do (think rules and standards), or doesn’t have it figured out quite the way you do, then “they” are the enemy and “they” are dangerous. Well, I’ve found out that “those people” are not the enemy of me and if they’re dangerous, they are probably dangerous for me in a good way, in that they mess with my golden little pet theologies in all the best ways. I have come to love and appreciate diversity, and the unity that comes in embracing the different ways God has called us to live out our lives and our faith in Christ. This is what IF:Gathering has embodied for me – this embracing of each other, of affirming and celebrating where and how God has called each one of us in, as Mary Oliver puts it, this “one wild and precious life.” In short, I’ve fallen in love with the Church of Jesus Christ with its many, many beautiful dedicated followers of Jesus who are bringing God’s Kingdom to earth through their reflection of Him in their every-day walking-around life. The Church is alive and vibrant and beautiful, regardless of what its many flaws and short-comings may be, and regardless of how we may think that should look. The Holy Spirit is at work all around the world (that would be everywhere, folks!) and we are all invited to join Him in that work, wherever we might find ourselves at any given moment. I want to join Him, but I also want to join my fellow-believers, wherever that may be and however that may look.

We must move beyond being afraid of each other and begin to link arms with each other, because we’re all fighting the same battle, not against each other, but against our common enemy, the enemy of our souls. We can’t afford, nor do we have the time, to not come alongside each other to encourage, to bless, to call out the image-bearer, to teach, to equip, to lift up, to give a nudge out of the nest if needed – all of that, for our sisters, and brothers, who are on this journey with us. We must join together, in unity, celebrating our differences and recognizing that God uses those very things to further His Kingdom, not divide it. This brings to mind a very important conversation we were privy to this weekend, one of racial reconciliation and healing. It was so, so good and so very necessary. It was a real picture of precisely what I’m talking about. Not only do we need reconciliation racially, we need reconciliation denominationally and theologically. We need to see each other through the eyes of Jesus, with love and grace and mercy, and Lord knows I need His help to do that!

I loved how our little gathering of 50 was diverse, representing a dozen or more churches in our area, many of them different denominations and with different views on any given issue. It was so beautiful to worship together, to listen to each other’s stories and to encourage each other on the journey that God has each one of us on. We have so much to learn from each other, so much to do together, so much to celebrate together! This was by far the most special part of the weekend for me, sitting with women who love Jesus and are following Him in the way He has called them to follow Him. So I’m over here cheering you on!! Run your race the way God is asking you to run it, and run it well, no matter what that may look like! May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. If our eyes are collectively fixed on Him, how much better to run the race He has set before us.

 

The Winds Are Blowing and IF:Sugarcreek is Happening

It’s been awhile friends, since I’ve had emotional and mental space to write and hit the “publish” button. Goodness, when I looked at the date of my last entry I realized it had been longer than I imagined. So much has happened since July, and really, I won’t bore you with all the little details. The big things have been continuing work on the remodel (it’s almost done enough to move in!) and taking on some heavy classes in the fall that left me with no extra anything

As I read back over one of my last posts, I was reminded of the way God was moving in my heart at that time and how I thought I would be sharing the vision I hinted at much earlier than this. Anyway, here we are and I will attempt to do that now.

Last year in February, I, along with several other women, had the privilege to attend the first ever IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas. It was a brand new thing and I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. I call it a thing, because IF:Gathering is not simply an event that happens once a year – it is a gathering together of a community of women who long more than anything to have more of Jesus and who desire to live their lives out of love for Him. Because if God is real, than we want more than anything to live like it. We want to let the real God that we love and worship do a deep and profound work in our hearts, increase our faith, and let Him change us to the point that we live differently because of it.

As I’ve been pondering and remembering how this conference and the ongoing connection with this community has impacted, inspired, and changed my life this last year, I have found myself wanting to bring this same kind of community and connection to my place in this world, to the people I rub shoulders with every week, to friends and sisters I don’t yet know, to those who long for a deeper connection with Jesus and also with His Body of Believers. What I love about this, this “movement” I guess I’ll call it, is that the founder and leadership of IF:Gathering do not want to have everyone leave their places and come to them once a year for a conference, but rather that we would gather locally with the people in our churches, in our communities, in our towns and cities and neighborhoods, the people we do life with, and join in the conference from where we are. They do this by offering streaming video of the event and providing an astonishing amount of resources and material to help women do this in their own context. I love this so much about them. I appreciate so much the humility with which this event was put on last year, the almost palpable presence of the Holy Spirit and the breathless expectation they – and we – had for what God was about to do. And what He did was explode this movement to the ends of the earth. People are watching in and doing online Bible study and praying together and eating together all over the world. To me, this is one of the most beautiful pictures of the Body of Christ coming together that I could imagine. Women from all different cultures, denominations and churches are laying down the things that don’t matter and unifying around what matters most – Jesus Christ. Jesus, and how He changes us so we can live our lives for His glory and for the good of people. I love the simplicity of this message and how the focus is on the heart of the Gospel. This – the pure and simple Gospel – this, I can get behind. This I can bring to my community, to my place, with the confidence that God will be honored and we will be challenged to a deeper place with Him.

My prayer for a number of years has been that there would be a safe place in my community for women to come together to wrestle with big questions, doubts, and fears, where there is no judgment or condemnation, but a place where grace is extended, where truth is spoken in love, and where we recognize that everyone is on a journey, realizing we are all at different places in that journey. And somehow, someway, I find that God is allowing me to be a small part of beginning to create such a space in a broader context than I ever imagined. In a small way, I see that happening as IF:Sugarcreek is coming to Sugarcreek, Ohio on February 6 & 7 via a live stream video event, as we join what God is doing in Austin, Texas and around the world right from our own little hometown. No need to pack up and hop on a plane to be a part of what God is doing, this is coming to you right here in your community.

God has been so gracious and brought together a group of six women who have come alongside me to make this possible this year, and I’m so grateful. We don’t know what to expect but we’re believing that God will do immeasurably more than we could ask or even imagine. We are so excited that we have registrations from people from a number of different churches and contexts from throughout our community and that we will get to meet new people and encourage them to live into God’s call on their lives wherever they may find themselves. Because we believe in coming together to build the Kingdom together, and we believe in affirming where God has called you, no matter how that looks or where it may be.

Do not let fear keep you from joining us – bring your fear, your questions, your doubts, your misgivings, bring them right in. I know I will there with all of those things. We believe we should bring any or all of those things, because if we’re honest, we all probably have at least one of these lurking in the corners of our hearts – and what better place to bring them than here? Don’t check them at the door. And just one more thing, no need to put that mask on and make sure everything “looks good”. Just come. Bring all of yourself. Bring your true self. Let’s be courageous and brave together. Let’s see what God has for us as we gather together. The winds are blowing and there is a fresh fire alight in the world, and this is one of many places around the world where I see this happening. I believe the Holy Spirit is always working and moving in the world around us; I see Him moving here and I know I want to be a part of it, I want to join in. We would love if lots of you would join in as well.

So, if you want to the nitty gritty details about when, where, what and how, keep reading. IF:Sugarcreek will be streaming the IF:Gathering event live on February 6 & 7, 2015 at Provia Door at 2150 State Route 39, Sugarcreek, Ohio. Since we are streaming live and the live event being in Austin, Texas which is in the central time zone, it will get just a bit late here in Ohio on Friday evening. Registration is required and the deadline to do that is February 1. The registration process is a two-part process, beginning with registering with IF:Gathering here. They have costs involved with doing an event such as this, and we encourage you to support what they are doing. Without them and all their hard work which continues year-round, this would not be possible. They ask you to give what you feel God would have you give, with a minimum of $1 required to register. The second part of registration is for the local part of the experience and we also are asking you to give what God lays on your heart to give, again with a minimum donation of $1 payable to Rosanna Mullet which should be mailed to 781 Smokey Lane Rd NW, Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681. We have limited space available, so please be as sure as you can that you are able to come if you sign up. We do ask that if you are registered and something comes up last minute that makes it impossible for you to attend that you notify us as soon as possible.

IF:Gathering does not release the speaker list ahead of time (they really want you to join because of Jesus, not because of certain speakers, but we’re all human and WE WANT TO KNOW!) so I’ll give you a taste of last year’s speakers. They were amazing – so gifted and so full of Jesus! Some of the speakers were Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, Rebecca Lyons and Shelly Giglio, just to name a few. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Oh, and the worship times were so good too – great musicians to lead in worship.

Schedule & Theme

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sign-In and Appetizers: 1:45 pm – 2:45 pm

Session One: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm  “A Call to Believe”

Dinner Break: 6:00 pm – 8:00  A Catered Dinner will be provided.

Session Two: 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm  “Why Don’t We Believe?”

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Session Three: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm  “How Do We Believe?”

Lunch Break: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm  A Catered Lunch will be provided.

Session Four: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm  “What Could Happen IF We Believed?” 

 

Find us on Facebook at IF:Sugarcreek and follow along there for updates and details. You can also ask questions there (as well as here in the comments). We really hope you will join us if God is nudging you to do so.

My friend Irene reflected here a bit on her experience at IF:Gathering last year…

“Heading to IF I had no idea what to expect, but it was much more than I could ever have imagined. First you should know that I would not have been able to go to IF had not someone paid my ticket and invited me along for a gathering that I will never forget. Just with that, gratitude filled my heart and as things came together to go I knew it was just where God wanted me to go.

“So as I reflect on what I experienced at IF in Austin, as we walked in I remember feeling like I could turn and run because of all the people, but it did not take long for that all to change. We were greeted like everyone was greeted there, like we mattered.

“As we sat and listened to Jen Hatmaker, Shelly Giglio, Ann Voskamp and Jennie Allen just to name a few, my heart filled and overflowed, so many things to remember and take home. As I glanced around the room I saw hundreds of women doing the same and I thought, what could be more beautiful? Women from all over the world together because of Jesus.

“You may ask what did I take home from IF? First of all, IF is a gathering where everyone matters. Then, as Ann Voskamp spoke she asked the question, “What if I am a Jesus user and not a Jesus Adorer?” That, my friends, stabbed my in the heart. I asked myself, am I more of a Jesus user than a Jesus Adorer? As she continued, she said when Jesus is beautiful to us, He moves us and that changes the world, versus when He is only useful to us and we expect Him to change our world.

“As we get ready for IF:Sugarcreek 2015, my prayer is that women could gather and be filled with the love of Jesus  and that their cups would be filled and overflowing.” –Irene

 

One Thing I Learned Watching the Crossfit Games

Over the course of the last few evenings the Crossfit Games have been closely watched at our house. Husband has been doing Crossfit for over a year now and it has been a huge plus in his life. I am so proud of his commitment to working out and the discipline it takes to show up at the gym week in and week out. I’ve watched him find an awesome community where everyone is cheering everyone else on, where everyone is accepted right where they are and everyone wants to see everyone else succeed. The last one done is cheered on more loudly than the first one done.

All of these elements were on display this weekend at the highlight event of the Crossfit world. Even though athletes were competing against each other, there were moments when they would help each other and cheer each other on. It was breathtaking.

What struck me the most though, was this. Going into the last few events, Rich Froning, the men’s Crossfit Games Champion for the past three years was leading by only a narrow margin. He knew he would have to win practically every heat in order to win. And then came the last event. As it was being announced, I noticed that many of the competitors were shaking their heads “no” – it was going to be a tough one. But not Rich. I noticed immediately that he was doing the opposite of what most of the other guys were doing. He wasn’t shaking his head in a negative, he was nodding his head. I could almost hear the self-talk that was going on in that arena. Some were saying, “No way, this is going to be tough,” while Rich was saying, “Yes, I can do this!” And in that moment, so much became clear. Attitude has a huge impact on how we finish in so many areas of our lives.

Froning went on the win the heat and the 2014 Crossfit Games, declared the Fittest Man on Earth for the fourth year in a row. Yes, he is fit. But he also has the mindset and attitude that makes him a winner – in Crossfit and in life.

What challenges are you facing today? How will you approach the starting line? With a shake of your head, or with a nod? It could make all the difference.