2021 Library

For a fourth year I have followed a self-developed reading strategy with the objective to read broader. The goal: read books falling under nine headings. This strategy is still working for me.

For the curious, here is the library of 21 books (Look at that! 21 in ’21! Totally coincidental…or was it?) listed alphabetically and avenue of reading:

  • The Greatest Motivational Tool by Rod Olson (hard copy)
  • Simplifying Coaching by Claire Pedrick (kindle)…best book on coaching I’ve read in a while
  • The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby (hard copy)…most challenging book in this library
  • Presence by Amy Cuddy (hard copy)…book with best takeaway, “Fake It ‘Til You Become It.”
  • Hope Rising by Casey Gwinn & Chan Hellman (kindle)…favorite book in this library
  • Opening Up by Writing It Down by James Pennebaker & Joshua Smyth (kindle)
  • Now Hope by Paul De Jong (kindle)
  • Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird (kindle)…most surprising book in this library
  • Baca by Valerie Hyer (hard copy)
  • Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz (audio)
  • When Mama Can’t Kiss It Better by Lori Getz (kindle)
  • The Journey by Lee Ann Martin (hard copy)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (hard copy)
  • Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt by Jentezen Franklin (kindle)
  • Prepare by J. Paul Nyquist (hard copy)
  • Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson (hard copy)
  • Awe by Paul David Tripp (kindle)…I read this annually
  • Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table by Louie Gigilio (kindle)…favorite Christian living book in this library
  • How the Light Gets In by Pat Schneider (kindle)…second favorite book in this library
  • Heartbreak to Hope by Samuel Wright (hard copy)
  • Another Gospel by Alisa Childers (kindle)

If You Were a Flower Arrangement…

Today I had a terrific call with a coaching client. As they shared their reflections on the year, an interesting symbol came to my mind. It was somewhat fresh in my mind because I had just received it in a text this morning.

This image seemed appropriate to share because of symbolism we had used in the coaching work when we first began. The imagery was based on the petals of a flower. The exercise was to determine how many petals make up the different elements of one’s life and to create an image based on the importance of those elements – in essence, use the image of a flower to put your life in perspective.

That imagery for this client set the tone for eight months of work. Listening to them describe how they see themselves now and where they are on their journey, this idea came to mind. What if the exercise where expanding from the image of one flower to a bouquet of flowers?

So I pulled up this image to screen share:

This was an arrangement my mother received just this morning. After I pulled it up, I simply challenged my client to consider this: “How would a flower bouquet of your life eight months ago compare to one today?” As a person of vision and words, that spoke to them.

If that speaks to you, go ahead. Get out a pad. Write, draw, or both. Take an inventory. How would your life look as a flower arrangement? If you’d like it to look different, what are some things to address as you enter 2022? Pick one flower and start beautifying your bouquet.

Here’s to a nicer bouquet!

Upcoming Group Coaching Program

Just finished this book and excited about developing a coaching group around it.


Edging closer to a new year and decade, we can challenge ourselves about personal growth in order for God to do all he desires in our lives. My working name for the group coaching program is this: Going After The Better and The Deeper: My 2020 “I Can” Plan. The program will last four weeks meeting on Wednesdays starting January 8.

Of course, you can start your work now by getting a copy of the book. To whet your appetite of what your coaching may address, here are a few quotes:

  • One reality you must come to terms with is that your mind is not always telling you the truth.
  • Accepting reality is like a reset button for rebooting your computer.
  • You are never without options. That is the nature of God’s creation.
  • We are all control freaks, to an extent. God has always encouraged his people to take risks in order to grow, change, and live the lives of faith that will produce good fruit.
  • The accurate meaning of failure is that it is a learning experience.
  • Whenever you encounter a closed door, God knows what he is doing. Trust him; he is for you.

Official registration for the group will come later. To get in now, send an email to john@firstbradenton.com.

Never Let Him Get to Three

Yesterday on a coaching call an observation was made about a parenting technique. Well, it was more than a observation-more like a self-aware acknowledgement of what not to do.

He noted that several years back he caught himself using the “I’m going to count to three” approach to foster obedience. And for his parenting, he decided this wasn’t working. It was sending a message he didn’t want to send.

This observation wasn’t the topic of the conversation, but it generated a question in connection to the conversation that wouldn’t have been made otherwise. Using the imagery of a parent/child relationship, imagine the Holy Spirit is the parent and the believer is the child. The question is, would the Holy Spirit count to three? If so, what does that say about the relationship? If not, what does that teach us about obedience or about quenching the Holy Spirit?

One could say freewill is a form of counting to three. “Go ahead. Make any choice you want. If it’s not the best one, I’ll be right here when you get back.” One could also say that the longsuffering, mercy, and grace of God is his way of counting to three. I’m not going to argue against either of those views…or others that align with God’s character.

My reflection has led me to a more personal response to this unusual question. While I’m grateful God doesn’t bonk me on the head every time I allow the counting to begin-and maybe go on and on and on-my life experiences have taught me to pursue a quicker response to spirit-led directions and promptings that reflect alignment and obedience. I’d rather not hear the tone of the counting voice, especially not from my grieving Father. But when I do, my aim would be to shorten my response time so that he doesn’t get to three…ever.

God Noticed

I had a moment today. And someone noticed.

It was during a coaching call. When I normally would have been “Johnny on the spot,” my mind was divided, torn, maybe even a little paralyzed. My client said, “Well, this isn’t normal.” My only response was, “I’m distracted.”

Been there? You’re in the middle of something that has to march on, but your mind is not there? Depending on the circumstances, we have various responses to take. The one I chose to take was to dive in even though I didn’t have much confidence in how the rest of the call was going to go. 

But then I made a second choice. I said a simple prayer. “God, I’m distracted. My client needs my full attention. So I need you to calm my mind.”

Guess what…the next thought I shared was “the one question that broke it open for me,” said my client at the end of the call.

He’s not looking for flowery, “Child, I don’t even know who you are” prayers. He’s looking for honest, “God I need you” prayers.

I had a moment today. And God noticed.

What About the Books on Your Shelf?

If you’re reading this, chances are you read quite a bit. A growing question for you and other readers these days is how do you buy books. Traditional or digital? (My answer, yes) And then there’s the audio question. Does listening to a book count as reading it? (My answer, yes.)

In a coaching call this week, a completely different question surfaced. The agenda of the call was to determine the various kinds of books this guy wanted to explore reading in 2019. He wanted to determine other genres and topics than he normally chooses, even material that might be uncomfortable. When it appeared the list was about done, I asked him to think about what kind of books give him life, refresh him, maybe even recreate him. I thought I knew how he would answer the question. I was wrong.

I assumed he would talk about style or topics or genre. Instead, he responded by naming titles of several books he’d read that were still meaningful to him. As he talked about them, he realized a simple thing. A good thing to do as a reader is to re-read good books, books that breathed life into you, books that made a difference. So he decided that another source for his quest for building his library for 2019 was to take a look at the books he already has, books already on his shelf practically guaranteed to restore his mind, heart, or spirit.

What about the books on your shelf? Which ones fill you up? Which book have you always said you will read again and still haven’t? Which book are you craving? These questions just might lead you to some exciting reading-traditionally, digitally, or audibly. May the books on your shelf impact your 2019.

Sabbath Webinar

Over the years, the subject of Sabbath has created some interesting conversations. This year, it’s gotten more intentional as I’ve led two groups through a coaching program about it and watched the participants walk away with a new perspective and personal plan about Sabbath.

For readers in the U.S. and around the world, it would be even more interesting to hear from one another about your Sabbath practices, or lack of it. Earlier today, I teamed up with fellow coach Tonya Waechter to share a webinar, part one of three, regarding Sabbath. You can watch it here: Webinar.

Tonya and I would love to hear your insights and then have you join us for webinar parts 2&3.

Realignment Day

Five weeks ago I self diagnosed a need. I had a need for a day unlike any day I’ve experienced before. This need was driven by various things. Did I need rest? Yes and no. Did I need time with God? More yes than no. What did I most need was my question. I took this to my coach and what I came up with was this: I needed realignment.

I’ve never heard of a realignment day, but it resonated with me. Since it was self diagnosed, that meant I had to come up with the “treatment plan.” I went into the day with some structure, but very loosely held. I knew prayer and reading would play a major role, but how long and with what content I wanted to be fluid and hopefully spirit led. I’ll share some of how the day went and give you something to consider for your own realignment day.

  • To establish why the title of realignment, I considered these definitions: 1. To place back in line, to bring back into line. 2. To rejoin as an ally. In the consideration, I looked at biblical examples of folks who needed and received realignment such as Adam and Eve, Samson, David, Jacob and Esau, Hosea and Gomer, Moses, Jonah, the prodigal son, and Peter.  This led me to a personal conclusion: I need to realign with how God sees people, with his grace, and with who I am in his eyes. This foundation led the rest of the day’s activities. These activities including reading, praying, and worshipping through music.
  • Reading: four scripture passages and portions of two books about these passages. Some of this was planned and some not. I knew that I was drawn to reading prayers and conversation between Moses and God. But in the moment I was led to other passages from Daniel, Job, and I John. These passages illustrated what is needed for realignment and how to pray for it.
  • Praying: confessional and covenantal. The truth about realigning with God is that he isn’t the one that got out of line. So realignment should include confessing where you got out of line and covenanting about staying in line. But before I wrote out those two prayers I started the conversation with God by asking him this: “What messages do you want to share with me?” To my surprise, he had a lot to say-a full page, a total of 13 clear and specific messages. Those alone were worth the effort and intentionality of the day.
  • Music: listening and creating. Again, to my surprise I was led to listen to one particular song throughout the day. Then as a result of reading and praying, a new song was birthed in my spirit. By the end of the day, where I ended up at a bayside park, not only was I realigned but I also had a song of offering to give back to God and to others what my realignment day had given to me.

Not everyone requires the same type of realignment, but I’m convinced we all need it occasionally. 

  • Are you due? 
  • What could assist you in realigning? 
  • How vital should a realignment day be in order for you to make it happen? 
  • What surprises could God have in store for you on your realignment day?

NO ONE Gets There ALONE (book review)

What a nice surprise this book by Dr. Rob Bell was. While checking out a recommended book on Amazon, his book popped up also. Not familiar with him, I was intrigued by the title. Knowing I have a commitment to reading a few coaching books this year, I went ahead and purchased it. Here are some quotes to illustrate why you could consider doing the same:

  • Everyone is an athlete; our office is just different. Some of us are corporate athletes, sales athletes, or entrepreneur athletes. Being an athlete is an attitude and awareness. It means looking through our own lens of life as an athlete.     
  • True competition is me vs. me.
  • Comparison is the thief of joy.   
  • When we focus on the differences between us, we are in comparison mode, believing we are better than or less than someone else.   
  • Talk about all stressful situations in non-stressful environments.   
  • When we are not all-in, we are just in the way.   
  • The chicken is invested in breakfast by supplying the eggs, but the pig is fully committed by providing the ham or bacon.   
  • Complaining is the first small sign of giving up.   
  • There are two types of pain, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

You can read this book because you are a coach. You could read this book because you need a coach. Or you could read this book to explore why you should consider being coached. 

For example, Dr. Bell’s section on faith may help you explore yours in a new way. And his approach to mental toughness is encouraging and tool-giving to all readers, regardless of your reading agenda. My personal best takeaway of the entire book was the section entitled “Focus on the Similarities, not the Differences.”

You’ll have takeaways from this easily digestible book. Give it a look and improve how you are getting there.

Safe People (book review)

I finished another great read from Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

One of the marks of a truly safe person: they are confrontable.

Safe people know that they are subject to change. They want to mature and grow over time.

Safe relationships are not just about trust, support, and sharing. They are also about truth, righteousness, and honesty.

To best deal with unsafe people, we first need to understand what causes us to be unsafe.

And that’s just from chapters two and three.

I came across this book while searching for a resource for developing a coaching program about relationships. Pretty sure this book is worthy. Here’s why:

  • Clear definitions, illustrations, and suggested tools for implementation.
  • Complete and thorough look on the subject.
  • You are not given the idea that you are perfect and others aren’t. It’s a look at yourself, if you choose to accept the opportunity.

Anyone would find this book helpful. Keep your ears open for a group coaching program on this subject, most likely coming this fall.