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O Holy Night

My father died December 18, 2010. The song O Holy Night was sung at his funeral. It was beautiful and fitting. It celebrates a light in the darkness, a rescue for a people in need, and the conquering of death in a world where we still must physically die. It tells us...

I Believe it Like Air

I want to share something about Christmas. Before I do, however, I want to state that I have seen enough, experienced enough, learned enough, and have lived long enough to disbelieve what I say below if I were ever going to do so. But I cannot not believe it. It is in...
What Makes a Good Listener

What Makes a Good Listener

There are three basic components of every good listener: 1. Good listeners know, and act on, their limitations.   Knowing our limitations is the work of learning our own stories and the makeup of who we are. When we know ourselves, we can plan around and sometimes...

Heart

The heart is the center of one’s being. Out of the heart we feel, need, desire, long, and hope. The heart is comprised of these core areas or roots. They allow us and push us to grow and connect, crave life and imagine, grieve and celebrate, attach and love. The heart...

10 Things the Wilderness Taught Me in 4 Days

Recently, I organized an adventure trip for male leaders through Wilderness Collective . In four days, we covered more than 275 miles from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite National Park. We traversed rugged terrain on enduro motorcycles that lead us over mountain...

The Courage of Sadness

Sadness is the attachment-caring feeling. It comes when what matters to us turns out differently than what we imagined, hoped, or worked for. And it comes most powerfully to those people who imagine, hope, and work for the most. Sadness is the feeling that presents us...

It’s Not OK, and It’s OK

In my work with people, I have begun to find themes that permeate the hearts of the souls that come in and out of my office. These souls have taught me that humans have A LOT of fears…like A LOT. I have witnessed how these fears can transfuse into walls and barricades...

A Parent List

Our lives as parents must not be about perfection, but about the courage of affection. We live our affection clearly and courageously through confession of the following, and we must do so imperfectly because that is the nature of life. Remember that affection is no...

Life Doesn’t Stop

The river of life never stops and the cycles of living move in never-ending circles. The sparrows keep chirping in the nearby trees while a casket is being lowered into the ground. Life itself stops for no one, but we can. A famous, ancient story tells us about...

Hope

As I sit here in Starbucks sipping on a Grande coffee, I remember back to the months and days that led up to my addiction being exposed.  There were many nights I stared at my computer screen hoping that the next image would bring me relief. No matter how many images...

10 Things Wilderness Taught Me in 4 Days

Recently, I organized an adventure trip for male leaders through Wilderness Collective . In four days, we covered more than 275 miles from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite National Park. We traversed rugged terrain on enduro motorcycles that lead us over mountain...

Four Parental Responsibilities

What follows are four gifts that we can give our children (of any age), and those gifts will be delivered imperfectly: We can take responsibility for our own feelings. We don’t have to make our children responsible for our emotional conditions. Your feelings are your...

Parenting with Heart, Part 3

It was a beautiful spring night in early April. The trees were budding. The days were getting warmer, but the nights were still cool. Heather and Emma Claire were at a movie. I (Stephen) was bowling with our youngest sons, Henry and Teddy. Elijah was off at a friend’s...

Laying Claim, Not Blame

When you or I say to someone, “I feel sad” about some loss, or “I feel lonely” about some disconnection, we are simply laying claim to our own internal emotional experience. The “I feel” statement, followed by our reference point to...

A Friend’s Prayer

A good friend recently took the time to send me a prayer that he has been praying for himself and his friends for some time. I’m very grateful to be someone he prays for. He told me to pass it along, so other friends and loved ones could be reminded to pray for...

A To-Not-Do List

I was taken recently by the question of what my “To-Do” lists really do for me? I’ve made them and crossed things off for years. There are seasons in which these seemingly helpful lists prove a profitable exercise; a place to deposit the endless undone things I must...

Big Results from Simple Actions

The following is a list of ten qualities that make leaders worth joining and make participants valuable to leaders. These ten simple actions are what leaders and participants do who create vibrant, sustainable, productive environments in which excellence is the norm....
Failing Well

Failing Well

No one naturally seeks to become mediocre, the diminishment of excellence. Anyone who thinks that they seek mediocrity, i.e., the uninspired, indifferent, average, lackluster, or forgettable, is confused as to who they are and how they are made. They are actually...

Parenting with Heart, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I (Stephen) was having a conversation with one of my sons and Heather in the kitchen. We were going round and round, and the conversation was precariously teetering on the verge of a blowup. My son looked me square in the eye and said, “You only...

Parenting with Heart

This is an excerpt from Parenting with Heart: How Imperfect Parents Can Raise Resilient, Loving, and Wise-Hearted Kids, by Stephen James and Chip Dodd  One of my sons (Chip’s) and I went on a fly-fishing trip a few years ago. He was out of college, gone from our...