About Nat

Marketer and Triathlete in Salt Lake City // Pound the rock. Do good. Have a great time.

Holiday Origins – Founding Documents to Explain Why We Celebrate

One summer I got invited to a 4th of July brunch. Among the logistical details, the invitation read: “Breakfast & a patriotic thought by David.”

“I’ve been waiting all year for this invite,” said one friend.

“Independence Day is always best celebrated with our Canadian-American friends!” said another.

David is Canadian.

Despite holding citizenship north of the border, David loves America.

His patriotic thought was, primarily, a recitation of the Declaration of Independence.

As David pointed out, if you omit the list of grievances against King George III, the document is rather short. Short enough that two people reading out loud and alternating paragraphs is a welcome break during a summer brunch party and not so long to lose anyone’s attention.

I loved it.

I loved that David took us back to the genesis of the 4th of July.

I loved connecting our pancakes, lawn chairs and stamped red-white-and-blue napkins with the American Forefathers, despotism and bold action.

David’s example inspired this assembly of founding documents to read each year with friends and family.

  1. New Year’s Eve
  2. Epiphany
  3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  4. Valentine’s Day
  5. President’s Day
  6. St. Patrick’s Day
  7. Palm Sunday
  8. Easter
  9. Memorial Day
  10. Juneteenth
  11. July 4th
  12. Labor Day
  13. Rosh Hashanah
  14. Yom Kippur
  15. Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day
  16. Halloween + Dia de los Muertos
  17. Veterans Day (Armistice Day)
  18. Thanksgiving
  19. Advent
  20. Christmas
By |2024-05-28T09:38:25-06:00May 27th, 2024|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

On Giving Christmas Gifts: A Debrief

It’s been a month since celebrating Jesus’ birth and the rebirth of light — and exchanging Christmas gifts.

That means 11 months more until Christmas and gift-giving season comes again.

Christmas thoughts from last year: Half as Close as I Want to Be

We sing “Keep Christmas with you, all through the year…”

Here’s some inspiration I’ve found on how to ‘keep Christmas with me’ — particularly with regard to the giving of Christmas gifts.

If you caught my Christmas stories, you’ll remember Manly P. Hall was a frequent source. All quotes here are from his essays in The Meanings of Christmas.

Christmas tree and thoughts on giving Christmas gifts
Like last year, rocking my Christmas tree deep into Jan. It is a winter holiday after all.

We say that it is unfortunate that times have changed and that Christmas is now a heavy economic responsibility. This development is in part due to a general misunderstanding and to the changes which the motions of civilization have wrought.

p61

This post is an effort to solidify my realigned understandings of Christmas and the giving of gifts.


For nearly fifteen centuries, the concept of Christmas giving and sharing was comparatively free from what we call “commercialism.” In older times, there were neither means nor circumstances that invited extravagance. Gifts were considered important principally because they represented the personal thoughtfulness, skill, and industry of the giver. Presents were quietly accumulated through the year.

pp59

One rather happy arrangement is not to shop at Christmastime at all but throughout the preceding year. One day we may stay to ourselves, “This would make my father happy,” or “This is just what my sister has always wanted.” That is the time to purchase the gift and to lay it away, as was the habit in olden times. Then when Christmas comes, there is no last-minute emergency, no hasty selection, and no meaningless gift. Also, the Christmas spirit lives throughout the year, and we recover from the absurdity of last-minute generosity. We are told in the legend that Santa Claus works all year long together his toys. Why not follow his example? In this case, the beautiful is also the practical, and no special funds need to be allocated to a single week or month. Nor are we faced with the haste and fatigue of late shopping. Thus we will come to Christmas with an eagerness to bring happy consummation months of kindly thought and preparation.

pp103-104

I am a firm believer in collecting gifts through the year.

The magic of Christmas is in the giving. The “collecting” can be exhausting, especially if crammed and done at the same time as everyone else.

Creative and soul-based ‘performance’ improves when timelines and pressure are absent.

Collect all year when there is no looming deadline. Let the surplus accumulate. Then you’ll be stocked.

When you release your stock of goodness, you become the source of the Spirit of the Season.

The logistics of sending gifts

Consider …

Isn’t part of the fun of Christmas actually seeing gifts under the tree day after day so that your anticipation builds as you wonder what they could be?

Would you rather:

(A) have gifts arrive on Christmas Eve with no time for anticipation,

OR

(B) have gifts arrive December 1 and spend all month getting excited about what is to come?

I prefer (A).

Once I looked at this situation thru the lens of people receiving gifts I send, I realized it is so much better to get goods shipped by Thanksgiving so that they get not only the gift but they also get the anticipation of a gift.

I don’t execute this perfectly.

But I am now deeply converted to the timeline.

[In those older times, t]here was no problem with the competitive value of presents given or received. Communities were essentially poor, but this fact placed no restraint upon the spirit of thanksgiving and the pleasure of small remembrances. The very simplicity of the old Christmas was part of its charm and helped to keep alive and bright the secret of the celebration. After all, it was in honor of a man who had renounced the things of this world, for the birds of the air had their nests, and the beasts of the field had their lairs, but the Son of Man had no place to lay his head.

pp60

One year my family celebrated Christmas miles and miles from where any of us lived. Transporting our typical tree decor was not feasible. We weren’t familiar with where to cut a tree in this new locale. But we got a tree and decorated it.

When considering what to do for tree decorations, my mind recalled scenes from an old Disney Christmas special where a 19th century family strung popcorn together on long chains and then strung those chains around their tree. So that’s what we did, adding cranberries for color.

My young nieces and nephews not adept with needles and thread cut strips of green and red construction paper to make long paper chains.

It was cheap. But we made it — together.

I loved that tree and those memories.

Most people are no longer sufficiently resourceful or skillful at making with their own hands gifts for their loved ones. We feel that we do not have the time, but in fact we lack the inclination. So today, we simply go out and buy, and join the throng, which has transformed this gentle festival into a merchants’ holiday. Is the merchant really to blame because we try to buy a spiritual experience that can come to us only in our hearts?

We all need to appreciate Christmas as an excursion of the fantasy — a journey into the into the land of mystery — where everything is wonderful and beautiful, and good is always triumphant.

p62

The best Christmas gifts likely have negative, raw economic ROI

I have a friend who is an amateur carver.

He is carving a nativity creche.

The economic ROI of making one himself is brutally negative vis a vis spending those carving hours as a consultant making extra earnings and purchasing a product crafted by an expert.

His final product will not be the most beautiful to the critic’s eye.

But it will be beautiful to those who have it and see it, to those who unwrap it, display it and put it away each year. Because … “father made it.”

Many folks say that they have no idea what some other person would like. This claim means that through the period of an acquaintance, we have had slight communion with the inner life of our friend. We have not been observant of their ways or thoughtful of their character.

p103

There must be a certain amount of wisdom to direct our giving. If there is little real beauty and appreciation behind our selection of gifts, we can have another cause for disillusionment. We give and receive an incredible array of worthless and impractical knickknacks. […] Christmas buying should not be a waste but a thoughtful selection of things meaningful or significant. It does not follow that we must select utilities — socks, neckties, and handkerchiefs as presents are the last resources of the unimaginative. Let us remember that the purpose of each gift is that it shall contribute to the consciousness of the Christmas Season. It should brighten the soul of both the giver and the recipient. It is a symbol by which we tell people that we remember them, not just as one of many, but as one cherished and understood.

p102

Needs, tool and utilities as gifts — just say ‘No’

I remember during my teenage years receiving a handful of expensive items from my parents, often in the back half of the year, which came with the words, “Consider this your Christmas gift.”

I understand what my parents were going through and why said they this.

I have no problem with the actions, but I wish the words had been different.

There was unnecessary loss in the meanings left open for available interpretation. Something along the lines of, “All I can do for a gift for you is spend money.” That isn’t true. But it stuck.

There is no problem with a family budget in which gifts and tools compete for limited funds.

That is a fact of life and perhaps an important moment to help children understand part of maturing is embracing one’s role in making tradeoff decisions.

However, a TI-89 for your calculus-enrolled child is not a gift. It is a utility.

Let tools be tools … and gifts be gifts. And may our words and presentation match accordingly.

Reflecting on these and similar experiences, I now say about Christmas lists and gifting in general: “It isn’t a shopping list. If you need it, we’ll plan accordingly and buy it.”

Further, I no longer request or publish Christmas lists and even go so far as to hold back from offering suggestions.


No matter how the most recent Christmas went for you, I wish you a year filled with the spirit of thoughtful and anticipatory giving, and a coming Christmas season where you and those you love “share[] in the benevolent conspiracy and the general atmosphere of expectancy” (p59).

A Christmas present is a symbol. We give of what we have, to indicate our intention to give of what we are. We tell our loved ones that they may depend upon us for strength and integrity and protection. It is a mistake if we allow the spirit of Christmas to be exhausted on a symbolic level. Nor should we bury the spirit of Christmas under a stack of presents.

p61

🎁🎄🌟

By |2024-01-28T16:01:38-07:00January 28th, 2024|Faith|0 Comments

Half as close as I want to be

Every year for at least 10 years, I pull up Relient K’s Christmas album on Dec 1.

And I listen to it at least 10x before New Year’s Day.

It goes by quickly in the car.

More Christmas music.

The fast tracks appeal to my coming-of-age music tastes: the nostalgia of pop punk drums ramming double time beats under traditionally mellower melodies, and upper register vocals ripping simple, three-part harmony.

And each year, I think about saying something about the song “I Celebrate the Day.”

He’s singing to Jesus:

🎶 Because here is where You're finding me,
🎶 In the exact same place as New Year's eve
🎶 And from a lack of my persistency
🎶 We're less than half as close as I want to be

Perhaps all I’m looking for is curiosity — do you, my friends, ever feel half as close to God and Christ as you wish to be … or is it just me.

Part of my relationship with God and His Son is a deep understanding of Their consistency.

Always being there.

And the expressed sadness of this song stirs my heart. I feel convicted: there is so much more I could do to be near God. My efforts to meet Him are feeble compared to all He does to meet me.

What gets touched is my longing — a hopeful longing — to do nothing but that which has me feel on God’s plane.

I speak often about getting better year after year.

Always learning and growing. Each year, the best one yet.

I believe a commitment to improvement and growth honors my God who created me and gave me life.

While I recognize and acknowledge meaningful growth each year, I haven’t yet made Heaven on Earth … for myself or others. I love where I am. And there’s still more. More goodness. More truth. More beauty … to experience and master and convey in my life thru word and deed.

And it’s all right there. A generous God has the infinity of blessings in His hands, ready and willing to share. It is on me to open and receive and let in all that is already showering down around me. I am aware of ways I try to go it alone, or forget His infinite love and acceptance and mercy, or believe a delay is required when perhaps divinely it is not.

🎶 And with this Christmas wish is missed
🎶 The point I could convey
🎶 If only I could find the words to say to let
🎶 You know how much You've touched my life

One thing that has become clear to me this year and this Christmas is I have no idea how to relate to you my relationship with God.

I can talk about the Church and my relationship with it all day. The serving. The showing up. The behaviors. The history. The actions. The scriptures. The prophets. The habits. The structure. The strengths. The weaknesses. The light. The shadows. The people. The structures.

But my beliefs … what I feel in my core and at my roots about where I stand with God, His infinite goodness, the all-pervasive power to heal and empower … I don’t know where to begin.

It’s all there, but an unarticulated, mostly frameless swirl of senses. An eternal mist I feel deeply acquainted with, but just within. Without word or ability to convey.

🎶 And so this Christmas I'll compare
🎶 The things I felt in prior years
🎶 To what this midnight made so clear
🎶 That You have come to meet me here

I’m searching. And yearning. And looking at giving word to these forms.

For now in this Christmas season, this much I can say — whether I’m looking hard or not — God so often has met me here, right where I am.

And I believe that He will, for me and you, year after year.

From another lesser known carol:

🎶 Now let us be merry, put sorrow away;
🎶 Our Savior, Christ Jesus, was born on this day

Merry Christmas 🌟

A Christmas scene: the manger in a stable
By |2023-01-31T17:29:36-07:00December 21st, 2022|General Life|0 Comments

We Each Have a Story

Given in the Holladay 10th Ward

Intro

Thank you, Brother Clayton. As he said, my name is Nat Harward and I have been attending the ward off-and-on since September of last year, when I moved into one of the extra rooms with Josh and KC Brothers at the big red house on the corner of Wander and 45th that everyone knows.

It really has been a blessing in my life to be here in this ward. I appreciate the warmth and outreach that I have received from so many of you. And I hope that through the duration of the time that you get to be in this ward, that you will continue offering the goodness that you have to your neighbors and receiving and welcoming the nurturing spirit of those who are around you here.

The Start of our Story

Today I’ll be reflecting on Elder Gong’s talk from April 2022 conference, entitled “We Each Have a Story.”1 And as I continue, I’ll keep coming back to a foil of themes:

  • having vs choosing and
  • inheriting vs creating.

Each of our stories, as unique as they are, starts with family.

Whether or not we know them, we are each born of a mother and a father. And each mother and father is likewise born of a mother and father.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, “We Each Have a Story”

And regardless of who and how and whether the mother-father roles in our lives were filled, “we are ultimately all connected in the family of God and in the human family.” Perhaps it is because our first relationships are with a mother and father that “When asked where meaning comes from in life, the majority of people rank family first” (Gong).

And so there begins each of our stories — with our mother and father and the physical inheritance that they bestow on us: our bodies encoded from a combination of their DNA.

Family Inheritances: Biology and then Some

In the book, It Didn’t Start With You a psychologist named Mark Wolynn suggests that at birth we inherit a lot more than just our parents’ biology:

When your grandmother was five months pregnant with your mother, the precursor cell of the egg you developed from was already present in your mother’s ovaries. This means that before your mother was even born, your mother, your grandmother and the earliest traces of you were all in the same body — three generations sharing the same biological environment. […] Your inception can be similarly traced in your paternal line. The precursor cells of the sperm you developed from were present into your father when he was a fetus in his mother’s womb.

emphasis added; Wolynn

You’ve probably already considered inheritances received from your parents beyond just their biology. Things like:

  • tradition
  • habits
  • mannerisms
  • recipes
  • stories
  • favorite vacation places
  • ways of speaking

and things like this.

All of these you might have found traces of further up the family tree, as things — not just from them (your parents) but from their parents or many, many generations back — all of these pieces of culture that get handed down from one generation to the next.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. Each of them are live in this moment. Each present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, A Lifetime of Peace

So in this way, our ancestors are all “Still very much alive” and “deserve to be remembered,” as they are the sources of so much that exists in our individual lives (Gong). By remembering them, we can be conscious of where and when pieces of our current lives or our inherited stories come from and perhaps even why they exist. And that understanding gives us a chance to make a clearer choice as to whether or not we will continue to nurture those pieces of ourselves, keeping them alive; or, if we will choose to retire those things, to prune them, or trim them — thanking those contributions for what we may have learned and saying it’s time to let them go.

This idea reminds me of the allegory of olive tree in Jacob 5, where not only is the House of Israel as a collective represented in the tree, or in the vineyard — with pieces that get grafted and moved around, and some that are productive, and some aren’t and get trimmed and burned — this is an image that works for you and I as individuals, too.

Why Remember Family?

On remembering our ancestors, I thought about the Disney Pixar movie from 2017, Coco,3 which touched me so much when I watched it. It was based on the mythical supposition that “if there’s no one left in the living world to remember you, then you disappear from [the spirit] world [or the afterlife].”

As Miguel, the main character, ventures into the world of the dead to connect with his long-past family, one of the matriarchs in his line tells him:

Miguel, I give you my blessing to go home and never forget how much your family cares for you.

Mamá Imelda, Coco

Now why might she say that?

Perhaps, it is because if you were to imagine your life and what your life would be like if you woke up every day and felt not only the infinite love of God and Christ for you, but also, if you had just an ounce of understanding and feeling of the love that your entire family tree has for you — everyone who has passed before you, all of their love, all of them rooting for you cheering you on, available to teach you something every day; if you could close your eyes, and see the faces of a hundred of your progenitors, and feel their strength and the lessons they have available to pass on to you from generation to generation — if all of that was welled up in you in a moment each day, wow. What a resource.

The Power of Family Stories

[Some] myth-shattering research years ago has reshaped our understanding of dinner-time discipline and difficult conversations [at home. They found that] The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: [which is to] develop a strong family narrative.

It was in the mid-90s, [when a psychologist at Emory University] was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families. There had been a lot of research at the time [about what was causing the family to break down]. But [these researchers] were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces [and be stronger together].

[At] that time, [the researcher’s wife … ] noticed something about [the] students [that she had in her classes, which was that] The ones who kn[e]w a lot about their families tend[ed] to do better when they face[d] challenges.

[The researchers went on that] Every family has a unifying narrative [… some are ascending, some are descending … but] the most [helpful and] healthy narrative [… they] call[] the oscillating narrative[, which might go something like this:]

Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar in the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we had setbacks. You ha[ve] an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost [his] job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.4

Bruce Feiler, NYT, “The Family Stories That Bind Us”

This narrative best lines up with the actual, observed realities of all individuals and families in mortality: we win some, we lose some. “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh away.”5

So whether we like it or not that’s what’s going to happen to each of us.

And note that this little aphorism at the start of the Book of Job immediately precedes an indication of his (Job’s) choice of attitude with regard to that reality:

So the Lord giveth the Lord taketh away and … “Blessed be the name of the Lord” … in His giving and taking, and in our receiving and losing.


When Family Fails Us

Back to Elder Gong:

Just as joys come in families, so can sorrows. No individual is perfect, nor is any family. When those who should love, nurture and protect us fail to do so, we feel abandoned, embarrassed [and] hurt. Family can become a hollow shell.

[…] Yet, with heaven’s help, we can come to understand our family and make peace with each other.

emphasis added; Elder Gong

We can choose to not be bound by the inheritance given to us by the stories that have already been told. We can choose to learn to keep the best, to trim the worst, and improve that which yet has untapped potential.

As Elder Gong urges us:

Learn and acknowledge with gratitude and honesty your family heritage. [By honesty, I think what he means is don’t gloss over difficult truths. He continues:] Celebrate and become the positive and, where needed, humbly do everything possible not to pass on the negative.

Let good things begin with you.

emphasis added; Elder Gong

Write a New Story — But Keep the Good

I’ll be the first to say that it takes a lot of work to prune an inheritance that hurts and to do everything that’s possible to not pass on the negative. It’s a whole talk on its own. I can briefly summarize it by saying: feel completely and forgive wholeheartedly. The endeavor is a heroic effort to heal the wounds in a family tree.

But on becoming the positive, I’d like to look to a narrative structure that has shown up in stories told around the world through the millennium of the hero’s journey — wherein, an individual

  • decides to wander out beyond the gates of the home that he grew up in, get lost, find something new, see a problem that they decide is worth solving … and
  • once taking on that adventure, to go through a phase of suffering, being in an unfamiliar place, facing challenges and failures and setbacks, but continuing on and on and on and on, working towards solving that problem, which, at some point,
  • will culminate in the darkest moments — reaching the deepest pit, the dragon’s lair, the scariest cave — where we at least want to go … and, in that space,
  • discovering, finding something new — a solution, or a treasure — and with that,
  • returning home a new person,
  • sharing new knowledge with our families and communities that raised us.6

Jesus Redeems the Whole Family Tree, the Entire Family Story

The promise of Jesus Christ is that we can become our best story and our families can become happy forever. In all our generations, Jesus Christ heals the brokenhearted, delivers the captives, [and] sets at liberty them that are bruised.

emphasis added; Elder Gong

This promise applies to those who have already passed on.

We all have skeletons in our family tree, which, upon discovering may be kind of hard to swallow — especially when we find traces of those skeletons in ourselves, and in our shadows — our dark urges that seem out of line with the light that we seek and hope to radiate to others.

But, I believe in the infinite mercy and love of God. That, could we see to the other side of the veil now, we would more often than not see people in our family restored, humble in heart, and perhaps urging us to have courage to do better than did they, as well as pleading our forgiveness for the scars we have felt from that which they passed on.

I too believe that in the garden and on the cross, every bit of our life experience that’s hard to swallow was consumed on the altar. There isn’t a hurt, an urge, a nightmare, a habit, a scar or a wound that Jesus has yet to feel and heal.

[So] we each have a story. Come [and create] yours. […] Find your voice, [write] your song [and sing] your harmony [to] Him, [our God]. This is the very purpose for which God created the heavens and the earth and saw that they were good.

emphasis added; Elder Gong

We’re each a son or daughter of Heavenly Parents, born to mortality of fallen, earthly parents — yet, eternally endowed with unbounded potential.

The ultimate question of man is not who we are, but who we could be.7

Jordan B Peterson

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.

Sources

  1. “We Each Have a Story” by By Elder Gerrit W. Gong – Apr 2022 General Conference
  2. It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn, 2016
  3. Coco, Disney-Pixar, 2017
  4. “The Family Stories That Bind Us” by Bruce Feiler, published March 15, 2013 in New York Times
  5. Job 1:21 KJV
  6. Notes on The Hero’s Journey from Damon D’Amore
  7. Beyond Order by Jordan B Peterson,
By |2023-10-30T21:23:07-06:00July 10th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Always learning: vocab expanders from Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

For Christmas, my brother gifted me Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who took daily discipleship seriously, as well as a conscientious objector to the Holocaust and reign of Adolf Hitler … to the point that he joined and participated in a conspiratorial movement plotting to assassinate Hitler. I’d say he’s someone who Pounded the Rock and honored his family story, while also writing his own.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I loved it. And it s t r e t c h e d my vocabulary.

Circled stretch words as I went thru. Reviewing again now.

Always amazed at the depth of the English language. So many words that drill into concepts with extraordinary specificity.

aesthete

noun – a person who has or affects to have a special appreciation of art and beauty

“Though an aesthete and an intellectual, Bonhoeffer was neither effete nor squeamish” p75.

alacrity

noun – brisk and cheerful readiness

“With an alacrity that nobody would have believed him capable of, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suddenly diced into the open cell of his brother-in-law.” p499.

avuncular

adj – relating to an uncle

“In the avuncular tone of an iconic chain-restaurant pitchman, the Reibi addressed his constituency in the foreward…” p290.

beggared

verb – past tense of beggar – reduce (someone) to poverty

“Dohnanyi told him that now, under the dark cover of war, Hitler had unleashed horrors that beggared description, that made the usual horrors of war quaint things of the past” p351.

bemedaled

adj – wearing or decorated with medals

“It was quite an assemblage: bemedaled and aristocratic army generals, a naval commander, a diplomat and his wife …” p518.

bestial

adj – of or like an animal or animals

“Canaris and the others in the German military leadership thought that Hitler’s bestial nature was unfortunate, but they had no idea it was something that he cultivated and celebrated, that it was part of an idealogy that had been waiting for this opportunity to leap at the throats of every Jew and Pole, priest and aristocrat, and tear them to pieces.” p351.

canard

noun – an unfounded rumor or story

“In 1933, when they came to power, the Nazis burned copies of Remarque’s book and spread the canard that Remarque was a Jew whose real surname was Kramer” p112.

cashier

verb – dismiss (someone) from the armed forces in disgrace because of a serious misdemeanor

“First, he would cashier the generals whom he blamed for the shameful disaster” p391.

demurred

verb – past tense of demur – raise doubts or objections or show reluctance

“When Bethge asked whether he could share the letters with some of the brethren from Finkenwalde — ‘Would you, I wonder, allow these sections to be given to people like Albrecht Schönherr, Winfried Maechler and Dieter Zimmerman?’ — Bonhoeffer demurred. ‘I would not do it myself as yet,’ he wrote, ‘because you are the only person with whom I venture to think aloud, as it were, in the hope of clarifying my thoughts'” p465.

doughty

adjective – brave and persistent

“He knew that the the disturbingly doughty Bonhoeffer would not get discouraged by a little bad news …” p212.

effete

adj – affected and overly refined

“Though an aesthete and an intellectual, Bonhoeffer was neither effete nor squeamish” p75.

epistolary

adj – (of a literary work) in the form of letters

“Then the Janus-faced Heckel sent an epistolary olive brand to the German congregations in England, effectively saying there was nothing to fight about any longer, and mayn’t we all get along?” p206.

eschatological

adj – relating to death, judgment and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind

“One sign of a deepening seriousness in him was his penchant for eschatological themes and a palpable longing for the ‘kingdom of heaven’ which he communicated in his sermons” p203.

facile

adj – (especially of a theory or argument) appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial

“Their chief goal in writing the Bethel Confession was to spell out the basics of the true and historic Christian faith, which contrasted with Ludwig Müller’s facile and inchoate ‘theology'” p185.

fealty

noun – a feudal tenant’s or vassal’s sworn loyalty to a lord; formal acknowledgement of loyalty to a lord

“Naturally, everyone present vowed fealty to Hitler and his Third Reich” p211.

“But the traditional values and fealty to high standards of culture were strikingly similar” p274.

folderol

noun – trivial or nonsensical fuss

“To them, all that business about doctrine was folderol that didn’t matter to the man in the street” p263.

frippery

noun – showy or unnecessary ornament in architecture, dress or language

“For Bonhoeffer, the challenge was to deliver the Word of God as purely as possible … Any frippery would only dilute the power of the thing itself” p291.

hokum

noun – nonsense

“‘Happy is he who always observed good comradeship. He will get on well in the world.’ Müller obviously meant this self-lampooning hokum as evangelistic” p291.

hue and cry

noun – a loud clamor or public outcry

“Bodelschwingh’s short tenure as Reich bishop was made increasingly miserable by the hue and cry of the German Christians” p177.

huggermuggery

adverb form of huggermugger – secret; of a confused or disorderly nature

“In the tangled huggermuggery of secret intelligence missions, one hand often didn’t know what the other was doing” p398.

importunate

adj – persistent, especially to the point of annoyance or intrusion

“But not with Dietrich: the waitress, the way she served the meal, the importunate animals, like a cat, a dog, an old duck, a half-naked turkey, begging for food and pestering the customers — all this offended his sense of beauty and dignity, and we soon left” p397.

imprimatur

noun – a person’s acceptance or guarantee that something is of a good standard

“In one slim book, Bonhoeffer was claiming that Jesus had given his imprimatur to the Psalms and to the Old Testament; that Christianity was unavoidably Jewish; that the Old Testament is not superseded by the New Testament, but is inextricably linked with it; and that Jesus was unavoidably Jewish.” p185.

inchoate

adj – just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary

“Their chief goal in writing the Bethel Confession was to spell out the basics of the true and historic Christian faith, which contrasted with Ludwig Müller’s facile and inchoate ‘theology'” p185.

ineluctably

adverb form of ineluctable – unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable

“He was moving ineluctably toward deeper involvement in the conspiracy, but exactly what this would mean was still unclear” p360.

Janus-faced

adj – having two sharply contrasting aspects or characteristics

In Roman religion, Janus was the deity who presided over doors, gates, archways, and all beginnings, structural and temporal (the month of January is named for him). He is represented as having a single head with two faces looking in opposite directions.

Merriam-Webster

“Then the Janus-faced Heckel sent an epistolary olive brand to the German congregations in England, effectively saying there was nothing to fight about any longer, and mayn’t we all get along?” p206.

kites

noun – plural of kite – fraudulent check, bill, or receipt; an illicit or surreptitious letter or note; (archaic) a person who exploits or preys on others.

“The strange theological climate after World War II and the interest in the martyred Bonhoeffer were such that the few bone fragments in these private letters were set upon as by famished kites and less noble birds, many of whose descendants gnaw them still” p466.

laconic

adj – (of a person, speech, or style of writing) using very few words

“When I asked what his reply had been to the Bishop’s order, he said with a grim smile: ‘Negative.’ Amplifying that laconic remark …” p208.

lupine

adj – of, like, or relating to a wolf or wolves

“And with typical lupine ruthlessness, he would order a savage bloodbath that came to be known as the Nacht der Langen Messer (Night of the Long Knives)” p208.

mien

noun – a person’s look or manner, especially one of a particular kind indicating their character or mood

“One of the most sinister figures in the evil pantheon of the Third Reich, Heydrich had an icy mien that suggested something one might encounter in the lightless world of the Marianas Trench” p315.

nonplussed

adj – (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react

“But all the generals were nonplussed by Hitler’s naked and blind aggression.” p304.

obdurate

adj – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action

“Hitler is not in a position to listen to us; he is obdurate, and as such he must compel us to listen — it’s that way round” p208.

oeuvre

noun – the works of a painter, composer or author regarded collectively

“Many outre theological fashions have subsequently tired to claim Bonhoeffer as their own and have ignored much of his ouevre [sic] to do so” p466.

outré

adj – unusual and startling

“Many outre theological fashions have subsequently tired to claim Bonhoeffer as their own and have ignored much of his ouevre [sic] to do so” p466.

paladins

noun – plural form of paladin – any of the twelve peers of Charlemagne’s court, of whom the Count Palatine was the chief; a knight renowned for heroism and chivalry

“Blowing up Hitler — along with any two or three of his scaly paladins — was still the ideal” p477.

parried

verb – past participle of parry – ward off (a weapon or attack) with a countermove

“The fawning Heckel passed along Hitler’s gloomy impressions to them as a not-so-veiled threat, which they parried by calling it a threat” p208.

peripatetic

adj – traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods

also – noun – a person who travels from place to place

“They were like the troupe of actors from Begman’s Seventh Seal, cheerful and peripatetic, but shadowed as they went by the hooded, dark figure of Death” p521.

philos

noun – Greek – to love, like, regard with affection

“It seems likely someone will eventually claim that Bonhoeffer’s relationship with Bethge partook of mroe than philos and storge” p466.

Piltdown man

noun – a supposedly very early hominid erroneously reconstructed in the early 1900s from what was later determined to be human skull fragments and an orangutan lower jaw planted by a hoaxer

“Generally speaking, some theologians have made of these few skeletal fragments something like a theological Piltdown man, a jerry-built but sincerely believed hoax” p466.

pogroms

noun – plural of pogrom – an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jewish people in Russia or eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

“Niemöller met with Hitler privately in 1932, and Hitler had given him his personal assurance that he would keep his hands off the churches and would never institute pogroms against the Jews” p177.

poniard

noun – a small, slim dagger

“Here, as far as he was concerned, was the thing itself — the blood-stained poniard that has been plunged into the back of the Third Reich, that had sabotaged it from the beginning” p529.

prevaricate

verb – speak or act in an evasive way

“But to procrastinate and prevaricate simply because you’re afraid of erring, when others — I mean our brethren in Germany — must make infinitely more difficult decisions every day, seems to me almost to run counter to love” p218.

reticent

adj – not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily

“But the reason is probably that you are by nature open and modest, whereas I am reticent and rather demanding” p274.

scaly

adj – slang – shabby; despicable

“Blowing up Hitler — along with any two or three of his scaly paladins — was still the ideal” p477.

senescent

adj – adjectival form of senescence – the condition or process of deterioration with age

“The senescent Hindenburg’s signature in a stroke turned Germany from a democratic republic with a would-be dictator into a dictatorship with the hollow shell of a democratic government” p149.

solipsistic

adj – very self-centered or selfish

“Then he took a page from his dormitory experiences at Union and adopted an open-door policy, such that his new charges could visit him unannounced at any time. It was a bold and decisive about-face for the once solipsistic Bonhoeffer” p132.

stanch

verb – stop or restrict (a flow of blood) from a wound

“The principal reason for Heckel’s visit was to stanch the bleeding of damaging information from Bonhoeffer and his ecumenical contacts” p212.

storge

noun – Greek – natural or instinctual affection , as of a parent for a child

“It seems likely someone will eventually claim that Bonhoeffer’s relationship with Bethge partook of mroe than philos and storge” p466.

taciturn

adj – (of a person) reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little

“He was a celebrated linguist, but famously taciturn, and therefore said ‘to be silent is seven languages.'” p393.

talisman

noun – an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck

“Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered …” p163.

vituperative

adj – bitter and abusive

“On August 7 and 8 the first of the conspirators were subjected to the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court), presided over by Ronald Freisler, whom William Shirer has called a ‘vile and vituperative maniac’ and ‘perhaps the most sinister and bloodthirsty Nazi in the Third Reich after Heydrich'” p487.

Ziggurats

noun – plural form of Ziggurat – (in ancient Mesopotamia) a rectangular stepped tower, sometimes surmounted by a temple; Ziggurats are first attested in the late 3rd millennium BC and probably inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9).

“But overeager theologians have built diminutive Ziggurats from these few scattered bricks” p467.

Other quotables

“Embodiment is the end of God’s path.”

Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, qtd p66

Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.

Bonhoeffer, p85

“You could not be a friend of Dietrich’s if you did not argue with him.”

Franz Hildebrandt, qtd p91

If you really try to experience New York completely, it almost does you in.

Bonhoeffer, p113

We do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them.

Bonhoeffer, p136

If you board the wrong train it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.

Bonhoeffer, p176

Many years later, after Niemöller had been imprisoned for eight years in concentration camps as the personal prisoner of Adolf Hitler, he penned these infamous words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller, German theologian, qtd p192

He had begun to see that the overemphasis on the cerebral and intellectual side of theological training had produced pastors who didn’t know how to live as Christians, but knew only how to think theologically. Integrating the two was increasingly important to him.

p195

We must shake off our fear of this world — the cause of Christ is at stake…

Bonhoeffer, p219

My calling is quite clear to me. What God will make of it I do not know … I must follow the path.

Bonhoeffer, p234

Only the complete truth and complete truthfulness can help us now.

Bonhoeffer, p236

Actions must follow what one believed, else one could not claim to believe it.

p240

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe.

Bonhoeffer, p241

Things do exist that are worth standing up for without compromise …

I recently came across the fairy tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which is really relevant for our time. All we are lacking today is the child who speaks up at the end.

Bonhoeffer, p260

Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic … Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it … Trust to the Word.

Bonhoeffer, p261

The teaching and the living must be two parts of the same thing.

p272

The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but also will tear apart those who force it on them.

Bonhoeffer, p278

Bonhoeffer bought the tickets for all of us at the station. When I wanted to repay him, he just answered: “Money is dirt.”

Hans-Werner Jensen, qtd p284

The holy is to be protected from cheap surrender. The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty.

Bonhoeffer, p293

Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization.

Bonhoeffer, p321

That, in a nutshell, was Bonhoeffer’s difficulty, and it illustrates his thinking that Christians cannot be governed by mere principles. Principles could carry one only so far. At some point every person must hear from God, must know what God was calling him to do, apart from others.

p323

One can give a reason for everything. In the last resort one acts from a level which remains hidden from us. So one can only ask God to judge us and forgive us.

Bonhoeffer, p336

“He will sit as a refiner of gold and silver” (Mal 3:3). And it is necessary. I don’t know where I am. But he knows; and in the end all doings and actions will be pure and clear.

Bonhoeffer, p337

We realized that mere confession, no matter how courageous, inescapably meant complicity with the murderers.

Eberhard Bethge, qtd p358

We will have to move through a very deep valley, I believe much deeper than we can sense now, before we will be able to ascend the other side again.

Bonhoeffer, p358

The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success.

Bonhoeffer, p363

It is not war that first brings death, not war that first invents the pains and torments of human bodies and souls, not war that first unleashes lies, injustice, and violence. It is not war that first makes our existence so utterly precarious and renders human beings powerless, forcing them to watch their desires and plans being thwarted and destroyed by more “exalted powers.” But war makes all of this, which existed already apart from it and before it, vast and unavoidable to us who would gladly prefer to overlook it all.

Bonhoeffer, p373

This was one of the casualties of the war, that trust itself seemed to die a thousand deaths.

p376

Who can comprehend how those whom God takes so early are chosen? Does not the early death of young Christians always appear to us as if God were plundering his own best instruments in a time in which they are most needed? Yet the Lord makes no mistakes. Might God need our brothers for some hidden service on our behalf in the heavenly world? We should put an end to our human thoughts, which always wish to know more than they can, and cling to that which is certain. Whomever God calls home is someone God has loved. “For their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness” (Wisdom of Solomon 4).

Bonhoeffer, p383

One has to live with the texts, and then they unfold.

Bonhoeffer, p384

We need not despise happiness simply because there is so much unhappiness.

Bonhoeffer, p408

Over the years I have written many a letter for the wedding of one of the brothers and preached many a wedding sermon. The chief characteristic of such occasions essentially rested in the fact that, in the face of the “last” times (I do not mean this to sound quite so apocalyptic), someone dares to take a step of such affirmation of the earth and its future. It was then always clear to me that a person could take this step as a Christian truly only from within a very strong faith and on the basis of grace. For here in the midst of the final destruction of all things, one desires to build; in the midst of a life lived from hour to hour and from day to day, one desires a future; in the midst of being driven out from the earth, one desires a bit of space; in the midst of widespread misery, one desires some happiness. And the overwhelming thing is thta God says yes to this strange longing, that here God consents to our will, whereas it is usually meant to be just the opposite.

Bonhoeffer, p408

Everything we cannot thank God for, we reproach him for.

Bonhoeffer, p413

But let us not dwell on the bad that lurks and has power in every person, but let us encounter each other in great, free forgiveness and love, let us take each other as we are — with thanks and boundless trust in God, who has led us to this point and now loves us.

Bonhoeffer, p421

God wanted his beloved children to operate out of freedom and joy to do what was right and good, not our of fear of making a mistake.

p424

If we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer.

Bonhoeffer, p447

When Jeremiah said, in his people’s hour of direst need, that “houses and fields [and vineyards] shall again be bought in this land” (Jer 32:15), it was a token of confidence in the future. That requires faith, and may God grant it to us daily. I don’t mean the faith that flees the world, but the faith that endures in the world and loves and remains true to that world in spite of all the hardships it brings us. Our marriage must be a “yes” to God’s earth. It must strengthen our resolve to do and accomplish something on earth. I fear that Christians who venture to stand on earth on only one leg will stand in heaven on only one leg too.

Bonhoeffer, p456

The freedom to chose a mate is a gift from God, who created us in his image. And the “desire for earthly bliss” is not something we steal from behind God’s back, but is something he has desired that we should desire … Earthly bliss and humanity belong to God, not in any cramped “religious” sense, but in the fully human sense. Bonhoeffer was a champion of God’s idea of humanity, a humanity that he invented and, by participating in it through the incarnation, that he redeemed.

p457

It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

Bonhoeffer, p458

If we survive during these coming weeks or months, we shall be able to see quite clearly that all has turned out for the best. The idea that we could have avoided many of life’s difficulties if we had taken things more cautiously is too foolish be entertained for a moment. As I look back on your past I am so convinced that what has happened hitherto has been right, that I feel that what is happening now is right too. To renounce a full life and its real joys in order to avoid pain is neither Christian nor human.

Bonhoeffer, p463

I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless, and that it is good for us all that it should be so, even if it runs counter to our wishes. As I see it, I’m here for some purpose, and I only hope I may fulfil it. In the light of the great purpose all our privations and disappointments are trivial. Nothing would be more unworthy and wrongheaded than to turn one of those rare occasions of joy, such as you’re now experiencing, into a calamity because of my present situation.

Bonhoeffer, p464

It always seems to me that we are trying anxiously in this way to reserve some space for God; I should like to speak of God not on the boundaries but at the centre, not in weaknesses but in strength; and therefore not in death and guilt but in man’s life and goodness. . . . The church stands not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village.

Bonhoeffer, pp467-468

Giving up on reality as a whole, either we place ourselves in one of the two realms, wanting Christ without the world or the world without Christ — and in both cases we deceive ourselves. . . . There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is God’s reality revealed in Christ in the reality of the world. Partaking in Christ, we stand at the same time in the reality of God and in the reality of the world.

Bonhoeffer, p469

The solution is to do the will of God, to do it radically and courageously and joyfully. To try to explain “right” and “wrong” — to talk about ethics — outside of God and obedience to his will is impossible: “Principles are only tools in the hands of God; they will soon be thrown away when they are no longer useful.” We must look only at God, and in him we are reconciled to our situation in the world.

p471

There are times when I am content to live the life of faith without worrying about its problems.

Bonhoeffer, p483

The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity is bound to become ridiculous.

Bonhoeffer, p486

A human being’s moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions.

Henning von Tresckow, qtd p487

I’m untroubled by all that has gone before, but we alone are responsible for the future, and in that respect everything must be clear, straight-forward and unconstrained, mustn’t it? Above all, we must submit our lives to a single consideration — that we belong together — and act accordingly.

Bonhoeffer, p490

Anyway, what do happiness and unhappiness mean? They depend so little on circumstances and so much more on what goes on inside us.

Bonhoeffer, p496

“The only fight which is lost is that which we give up.”

Bonhoeffer, qtd by Fabian von Schlabrendorff, p499

He was on of the very few men that I have ever met to whom his God was real and ever close to him.

Captain S. Payne Best, qtd p514

Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.

Bonhoeffer, p517

I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer.

H. Fischer-Hüllstrung, qtd p532

Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.

2 Chron. 20:12, qtd p538

Only the believer is obedient, and only he who obeys believes.

Bonhoeffer, p540
By |2023-11-05T20:43:00-07:00June 15th, 2022|Faith|0 Comments

My Personal Travel Tips – Making Weekend Trips Awesome

When I lived in New York my brother’s family was in DC and later Philly, and my sister’s family was in Boston. I liked seeing my nieces and nephews . . . and getting cannoli in the North End . . . so I visited them a lot. You’ve heard people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” and sometimes my weekends were like that too. After a couple weekends that were more exhausting than rewarding, I wanted to figure out how to have a great weekend and still hit the ground running once I was home. These personal travel trips are what came of my thinking on managing wellbeing while making the most of travel time.

Travel Tips – Schedule

  1. List what I personally want to get done over that period of time
  2. Ask of people I am staying with / traveling with (a) what’s fixed on their schedule and (b) what they’d like accomplish/do with me
  3. Put their fixed items in my calendar
  4. Communicate what I have fixed in my calendar AND what I’d like to get done, and, generally, what it takes to do those things
  5. Considering 1-4, talk through, negotiate, manage, plan the days with my travel companions / hosts

No surprise — often a large chunk of what I want to get done is exercise. I appreciate family and friends who support my getting out and being active.

And here’s one example of loosely laying out a week:

Travel Tips - Week Plan

Travel Tips – Transportation

Rent my own car.

And if I’m not renting, intentionally create ‘I’m not renting’ as a choice. Visualize being driven and taken care of.

Travel Tips – Sleep

Think about what I am going to sleep on/in. Be with it. Practice zen detachment about it. Anticipate that it may change. Consider specific needs/desires (e.g. temp, pillow, light) and make requests.

Go to bed by 1230am the first night.

Get up by 630am the first day.

Shower and change into day clothes the first morning before 10am.


There you go. Curious to hear what works for you.

By |2022-07-21T14:38:07-06:00May 2nd, 2022|General Life|0 Comments

’Tis the Set of the Sail

Dang, this is good.

And from 1916.

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919; found here)
’Tis the Set of the Sail
By |2022-07-21T14:37:23-06:00April 19th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Merry Christmas: “Witnesses of Christ” Christmas Concert

Christmas concerts, cookies, caroling and celebrating Christ. I look forward to the holidays every year.

But as the years go on, I wonder if I’ll feel the spirit of the season — whether I’ll access the youthful, innocent spirit of wonder, or if cynicism, disappointment and growing responsibilities have layered so thick that even the penetrating messages of Jesus’ birth and the magic of Santa Claus won’t reach my heart.

When I was young, my parents gave me The Polar Express.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

Inside the front cover, my mother wrote: “May you always hear the bell.”

Not a year has gone by when I haven’t asked, “Will I hear the bell again this year?”

The disappointments and challenges of the year are what they are. And music doesn’t make them go away. But the performers in this Christmas concert offered praise that reached my heart. And so, once again, I thank God that I have heard the bell and felt the promise of the gift of His Son.

🔔

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Performed by Truman Brothers
  • Witnesses of Christ – Introduction / Host, David Butler
  • Witnesses of Christ: Shepherds / by Adam Hartshorn
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks / Sung by USU Chamber Singers
  • Witness of Christ: Simeon / by Matheus Santos
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear / Sung by Daniel Beck
  • Witness of Christ: Manger / by David Butler
  • O come, O come Emmanuel / Sung by Allie Gardiner and Wade Farr duet
  • Kids Talking about Christmas / Presented by Shaunna Thompson
  • Deck the Halls / Played by Josh and Lindsey Wright
  • Witness of Christ: Mary / by Mary Alisa
  • Infant holy, Infant Lowly / Sung by Stella Yeritsyan
  • Moment Video – Nativity
  • In the Bleak Midwinter / Sung by Rise Up Children’s Choir
  • Witnesses of Christ Today / by Host David Butler
  • Oh, Come All Ye Faithful / by Abraham Thomas, Aitana Alapa, and Terrell Baker

Memories of singing at Temple Square and my music background.

By |2021-12-15T14:24:23-07:00December 13th, 2021|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Cash Management for Small Businesses

Small businesses live and die by their cash management practices.

I’ve run my own business since 2012 and seen the inside of +100 small businesses. Time and time again I see it and feel it … you gotta be smart with $ or else you’ll run yourself into the ground.

As my good friend Brian Lofrumento says, most businesses fail not because people give up but because they run out of money.

Running out of money is a preventable problem.

Smart cash management is the solution.



I first wrote about intentional cash management in Get a Grip on Your Time and Money (Podcast Bonuses). Since then I’ve learned a few more tricks.

Remember my Money Tripper approach to cash management?

Version 1.0 – First list expenses/outflows in priority order, then track money as it comes in … my fancy spreadsheet would show how deep down the list of expenses you actually had cash on hand to cover. The approach forces prioritization of expenses and reveals how much (or how little) of those can be afforded in the present moment. A huge cash management hangup for a lot of businesses is spending money that’s not yet in hand. “Oh, we can pay for this once Project X comes in, and then after Dave pays us, we’ll be in a real good spot.” Then Project X doesn’t come in, and Dave goes out of business and you never collect. So your money is already spent, but the $ you planned to receive to cover it never came in. #Hosed.

Version 2.0 – Same concept, but a fixed % of every dollar of revenue that came in was stripped away and dedicated to saving up for taxes and saving up to make a donation to my church. So whenever I got $100, instead thinking the business had $100 to spend, my Money Tripper 2.0 took out a percentage for taxes and tithing, leaving more like $75 for the business to apply toward expected expenses.

Version 3.0 – What I’m sharing today.

Introducing … Profit First.

The Profit First approach to cash management for small business:


I’m so glad friends in YNAB Fans said something about entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz so that I could find Mike’s Profit First cash management method and the YNAB for Small Business group.


Cash Management for small business - the Profit First approach

Go ahead and get a copy of Mike’s book and lean on this summary:

(FYI there are add-on variations for contractors, e-commerce, micro gyms, dentists and tradies.)


[1] We are taught that profit comes LAST.

revenue – expenses = profit

First, you make money.

Then, you cover expenses.

And what’s left?

… that’s profit.

Our inherited/default psychology runs our businesses in this order.

[2] Things expand to the space allotted to them: Parkinson’s Law.

Small business owners make decisions on the fly.

We open our banking apps, look at $ in the bank or available credit on a card, and decide ON THAT whether to make a purchase.

We see it … we spend it.

[3] Expenses expand to all visible dollars, consuming 100% of revenue. There is no profit. 💸


Put [1] and [2] together and this is the outcome.

Cash management that sucks.

What if we flipped the profit order and used Parkinson’s Law to our advantage?

You can, and it will RADICALLY improve your cash management to keep expenses in check, grow your business and produce profits you actually realize and enjoy.

Enter … PROFIT FIRST.

[1 revised] Profit comes FIRST.

revenue – profit = expenses

First, you make money.

Then, you set some aside for profit.

And what’s left?

… that’s money available for expenses.

[2 revised] Things still expand to the space allotted to them, but we draw boundaries to how far they can go.


The crux of the Profit First method is to open at least 5 separate bank accounts (more later on why you might do more than 5):

  1. Income
  2. Profit
  3. Owner’s Comp (OComp)
  4. Taxes
  5. Operating Expenses (OPEX)

Deposit all revenue into Income: deposit checks there, have Stripe and Square deposit funds there, etc.

Once or twice a month, EMPTY the Income account into the other accounts.

How much will you put in each account? Chapter 4 lays out a process for determining that. The amounts will change each time as they are not fixed $ amounts, but percentages. Each of the 4 accounts (#2-5) have their own Target Allocation Percentage (TAP).

Every business is different, and Chapter 4 has an exercise to help you land on your TAPs.

The book has this table of benchmark TAPs by Real Revenue Range.

Cash Management for Small Business - Target Allocation Percentage benchmark from the book Profit First

[3 revised] Expenses expand to just visible dollars in OPEX, a smaller % of revenue. There IS profit.


Yes, this is like the Envelope Budgeting Approach applied to small business.

If you are running a business that doesn’t have a full-time bookkeeper, accountant and controller who can fill you in daily, then you need a cash management approach like this.



The best banks for Profit First

OK, so now that you’re onboard with this small business cash management approach … how on earth do you implement it??

If you are running a microbusiness, chances are GREAT that traditional big banks (Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank, BoA) are not going to work for you. They have significant account minimums that would tie up precious working capital or monthly fees that eat away at your profit.

So what do you do?

Here are my favorite banks for small businesses that also make it easy to follow the cash management practices of Profit First:

[1] Brex

zomg. Love Brex.

Based in my home state of Utah.

Super clean interface.

Free ACH transfers – makes it mad easy to pay vendors.

No minimums.

No standing monthly fees.

FREE to open up to SEVEN accounts under one business … perfect for Profit First!

Each account has its own account number, so you can send and receive directly into these accounts if needed.

MAD easy to add as many cards as you need to give to contractors, employees, while also limiting their spending limits.

Can create virtual “vendor cards” in 5 seconds online. If that one card gets compromised, you can shut it down without having to reset card info for alllll your other vendors.

For US businesses only.

Use my link and get $250 after signing up.


[2] Novo

Novo is also part of the wave of new, online-first banks.

Also a very clean app, great features, and the option to create “Reserves” (up to 5 per account) for following the Profit First method.

Includes a tool to send and process invoices for free!

Bank with Novo


[3] Small Business Bank

“YOUR HOMETOWN BANK. WHEREVER YOU LIVE.”

I’ve been with SBB since 2013!

While Brex and Novo are more like startups with designers and developers making a slicker banking experience, SBB are first and foremost small business bankers. So their website and app are a bit clunky, but when you need to interact with a person who knows what’s up and is ready to offer premium service, they CANNOT be beat!

Similar to Novo and Brex, SBB has no minimums and no regular fees.

Service is and always has been amazing.

They allow up to four accounts (two checking, two savings) per business … and you can register more than one business under your individual log in. (Brex and Novo allow just one business per log in, so if you have multiple entities, you’d use a different email/login for each entity.)

www.smallbusinessbank.com




“You said earlier ‘at least’ 5 accounts … why?”

Thanks for the reminder.

If you run a product sales or resource-heavy business … it would also be smart to open (at least) two more accounts “on top” of the 5 noted above.

These would be:

  1. Gross Revenue
  2. Cost of Goods/Services Sold (COGS/COS)
  3. Income, aka Real Revenue
  4. Profit
  5. OComp
  6. Tax
  7. OPEX

COGS/COS would be … the price of inventory you buy to sell. The cost of raw materials used to make a product to sell. The cost of a temporary subcontractor to fulfill a project.

Managing your money this way will ensure you always have working capital.


Remember, there are industry-specific suggestions for additional accounts and Profit First adaptions in these these extension books. Profit First, for …

Regardless of what industry you’re in …

Starting TODAY, strive to have 3 months of working capital on hand. Then shoot for 6 months. Setting and accomplishing that goal will require significant changes to how you’ve been managing cash up to this point.


Adding Gross Revenue + COGS accounts also makes it SUPER easy to calculate gross profit margin (GPM), while the rest of the system makes it easier to calculate net profit margin (NPM). What’s the difference?

Business Success Rules of Thumb: 50% GPM and 10% NPM (see page 53).

In simple English this means:

  • If you sell something, you better sell it for DOUBLE what it cost you to make it (50%). You will spend at least 40% of the rest of what you brought in paying yourself, your staff, taxes, accounting, marketing, rent, etc.
  • If, after paying for ALL expenses (including your wages if you work in the business), your business doesn’t have at least 10 cents left over from every dollar brought in (10%), you might as well give up the business and work for someone else. The risk, in this case, is not worth the reward (profit). You’ll be better off putting your effort and money into another investment with prospects of better returns, or possibly running your work thru a nonprofit corporation with a public-serving mission instead.

While we’re on it … Mike’s advice is, “When in doubt, open an account!”


There is no end to the number of accounts you can open that will help improve your cash management strategy by clearly tucking $ away for specific purposes.



Was this helpful?

Let me know which new cash management habit you’ll adopt first.


Comment below, and definitely drop a link to your business so we can check it out and celebrate your success.

To your success … and profits 💰

By |2022-01-03T11:14:54-07:00November 22nd, 2021|Marketing|0 Comments

How to Make Stuff Happen

Everyone’s got dreams: things that have never been done or that are bigger than what can be done alone. A few notes to make stuff happen:

[1] Be up to something.

Be up to this thing until you have momentum. Momentum is the flywheel of force that makes it easier as time goes on for you to continue contributing to this thing you are up to. Momentum consists of habit and ritual you’ve created which draw you back into taking actions for the same thing. Progress is an evidence of momentum. Being up to something means you have something at stake. You are living for something.

Make Stuff Happen - start by pounding the rock
How to Make Stuff Happen: start by pounding the rock for your own cathedral

[2] Test for traction.

Once you have momentum, share what you are up to with another human being. Traction is momentum that attracts. When people are really up to something, it’s attractive. People will ask questions, dive in, ask for more, make offers in the presence of what’s attractive. If they want more of it, you’ve got traction.

[3] Invite.

Invitations without a background of people getting what you are up to leaves them unable to answer for themselves … “what’s in it for them to be asking me?” People are suspicious. Aren’t you? Invitations made in advance of experiencing momentum, with an absence of attraction, fall flat. People have their own stuff they are up to. Why would they create lifeless busy work for themselves? After people witness you being up to something and experiencing the momentum of it, only then does an invitation to participate stand of shot of landing.

[4] Stay the course.

Regardless of response to invitations, keep going. Making things happen requires not being messed with by responses.

Make Stuff Happen - stay the course
Stay the course.

Other considerations to make stuff happen:

Why invite someone to do something you aren’t up to? If you won’t do it, if you aren’t doing it … why would they?

Often a prerequisite to [2] is Make a connection. Connect with another human being so they can paint a picture of what’s going on in their world; something to which you can relate. Give them a chance to say what they are up to. You may find they are up to nothing. Start with a no-stake, no-demand, no-request contact. When they experience that you are willing to look into their world, they then may be willing to hear you offer something from yours.

By |2021-12-27T13:27:49-07:00October 17th, 2021|Faith, General Life, Marketing|0 Comments