Category Archives: What I’m Learning

Conner and Cayden Long

This is so inspiring.

I pray to raise boys like these two.

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Filed under About John, Leadership, Let Me Introduce You, Manhood, What I'm Learning

Wheelchair-bound Scuba Diver

Sue Austin’s Tedx talk is absolutely inspiring.

So challenged and energized watching her scuba diving video and hearing her talk about the joy she has found by where she has but her focus.

Thanks for sharing Herman.

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Filed under Design, Let Me Introduce You, Technology, What I'm Learning

Different People, Same Answers

Jordan Laws has been interviewing famous actors and asking very similar questions for years.

In this mash-up you can see that famous people are people.

You ask these same questions to 20 people in my neighborhood, 20 people in my church, 20 people wherever you are, you will get the same answers.

A piece of me wants to breakdown each question and answer this morning, but my coffee maker broke this morning.  Bigger issues at hand. Ha!

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Filed under Culture, What I'm Learning

Inspire to Aspire

Ruby & Alex have started an organization in Austin, TX they call the HourSchool.

It is a unique and creative concept where individuals teach others something for free. How to roast coffee. How to live more efficient. How to build a website. Whatever.

The genius of the idea is that anyone can be a teacher. They aren’t just hiring teachers or convincing professional teachers to teach for free, they are convincing practitioners to be teachers.

Teaching is a skill. Some are truly better than others. But HourSchool is seeking to turn students into teachers. Breaking out of the traditional lecture to large group model, they are making teaching a social experience that is interactive and real.

Their mission is to inspire people to aspire. To realize they have something to offer.  Alex says in the video that “community is better off when it’s members are engaged. When it’s members are not just receiving, but giving.”

Alex is so right!

Did you know the church should be, could be like this?  Did you know it used to be?

In the 1st Century everyone taught. In fact the local priest had everyone on a list and what passage they were suppose to teach on. Everyone!  The list was made years out.  So you would know today that in 47 weeks you were teaching on a specific piece of Isaiah. Or your wife a year and half from now was going to teach everyone from Psalms.

Not sermon stuff, but 5 to 6 minutes of what this verse has taught me, meant to me, maybe how it has changed or challenged me.

Right after Alex says that above, Ruby says “When you ask a lot of people what they want to learn, they don’t know. That’s almost as hard of a question as asking them what they can teach. And I feel like they don’t know what they want to learn because they are so boxed in to what they currently know. What they think their lives are about. They don’t aspire to be more.”

So HourSchool is going after people with inspiration and is expecting the result of people’s aspiration.

Inspiring them to not only learn, but to teach. To learn from each other, not just a select few. To not limit teachers to teachers, but to allow all doers to teach.

I love it. I hope they truly succeed. And I hope local churches learn from them.

Thanks Herman for sharing this video on your blog.

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Filed under Let Me Introduce You, ReThink Normal, The Church, What I'm Learning

Sacrificing Neatness

I prefer neatness.

I am not necessarily a neat freak. Don’t think anyone would call me that, but I like things neat for sure.

Neatness is more valuable to me than cleanliness. There is a difference for sure. Something can be perfectly clean and sanitary, but also completely messy as well.

The hard to find chapter and verse of “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” would be translated “Neatness is God’s favorite” in the Carroll Standard Version.

I don’t know if you have ever lived with a child before. I have. Four of them currently.

They know extremely little of neatness. (Cleanliness is completely out of their realm of comprehension.)

Having a 7 year old, two 5 year olds, and a 3 year old in your house creates no chance for neatness.

Their own bedrooms and the playroom don’t bother me too bad at all, but the constant deposits of toys and such around the house can drive me nuts sometimes.

The floor of mine and Ashleigh’s Closet

Our Den.

Fireplace Mantel

Back Deck

Kitchen Table

I walked through the house to go get another cup of coffee and saw each one of these scenes. I didn’t run into a single child, which is as rare feat. Just these remnents of their activities this morning.

As I poured my cup of coffee I thought: “When are these kids going to pick up after themselves!”

As soon as I thought that I thought: “Probably not till they are gone.”

Then my heart skipped and my stomach flipped: “What will my life be like without my kids?”

(Before you attempt to remind me that it is natural for them to grow up and go out, know that I am not begging God to pause time for my kids, or remind me that parenting is hard and that I will appreciate my kids being out of the house, or to just commit me straight to the psych ward for thinking such a thing…hold with me.)

As I sat there pondering a neat home with no kids in it God reminded me of a Proverb….

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
Proverbs 14:4

Then in my mind I translated: “Where there are not 4 Little Carrolls, the home is neat, but abundant joy comes by the lives of these four.”

So God made me a little more okay with messiness today and little more appreciative of my family today.

I wonder how else God is going to use Proverbs 14:4 in my life.

What are the oxen in your life?

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Filed under About John, Friends & Family, Theology, What I'm Learning

I Hate Running


My Nike+ app says I have run 98 times in the past year. Those runs total up to 289.8 miles.

I run the same route 80+% of the time. From my house to Cooper St down Central. Beautiful homes. Nice sidewalks. I have done this run a lot, but today I realized something for the first time…I hate running.

I do hate running. I knew I hated it in the 80’s and 90’s.  In those decades, I only ran from others in inter mural games and from the authorities.

In the 2000’s I started running like most people. For “exercise”.

I tried to talk myself into it, but never really did a good job. Since 2009 though I have been running pretty consistently. At one point, maybe even until earlier this morning, I thought I really enjoyed it. But I don’t.

I don’t like running and I figured that out when my headphones quit working about a half mile into my 3-miler this morning.

What I really love doing is listening to podcasts. Podcasts are amazing. This American Life, All Songs Considered, Catalyst Podcast, Stuff You Should Know, Radiolab, etc.

These are the reasons I love running. These are things that keep my feet moving one step in front of another.

But today, my headphones went dead. Absolutely quiet.

At first I didn’t worry about it. I was disappointed, but I would be home in 20 mins. No big deal.

Just 3 minutes later I found myself screaming in my head, “This is a very BIG deal!”

Then I was just full on talking to myself: “What are we doing out here?”, “What is wrong with these stupid headphones?”, “Who do you know that could let you borrow some headphones?”, “Is there a store open that sells headphones?”, “We need to carry money for now on during runs.”, “Running sucks!”

It seriously took a lot to not just turn around and shorten the run, but I kept going.

I got to Cooper and made the turn back. Now on the north side of Central I found myself just wanting to walk home instead of run. I had no energy. No motivation. No passion.

All I could think about was running. It was laborious. Heavy. Hot. Sort of painful. And boring.

“Is running always this terrible?” I asked myself. “Why do I do this?”

I started thinking about my short little legs and stocky upper body and how I punish my legs 9 miles a week. How mean am I to myself?

I contemplated having Ashleigh come pick me up, but finally my pride kicked in. My wife is not going to drive me a mile and a half home because my headphones stopped working.

I decided to keep running, but that yield sign at the corner or Central and Lamar I slap each Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday to signal the end of the run seemed way to far. It might has well been in Oklahoma.

Without my podcasts allowing me to escape from the reality of how much I hate running I was sunk. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to do it. The reality of what I was doing was oddly overwhelming.

Then I stopped thinking about the yield sign.

I saw the next light pole and asked, “Can you run to the next light pole?”


As I passed it I saw another light pole and asked myself again, “Can you run to the next light pole?”


Again, “Can you run to the next one?”


Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Um, maybe. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I stopped thinking about the yield sign. I knew it was out there. It was where I was ultimately headed, but it seemed impossible to run there.

But the next light pole was always attainable. Always within reach. Never a doubt.

I made it. I ran it. Half the way I hated it.
But at the end, I was wishing for more light poles.

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Filed under About John, What I'm Learning

So Painful

First, the was not a person…it was a bag of trash.

But, can you imagine? It would be brief, but for the few seconds you would be alive I am not sure something would be more painful.

Prove me wrong?  What would be more painful that falling into that?

This is Erta Ale Lava Lake in Ethiopia. Some people threw a bag of trash in there and the lava took care of that for sure.  Maybe on a visit to Ethiopia one day Abigail and I will throw something in there.

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Filed under Reviews, What I'm Learning