All posts by lennoxfleary

Webslinger

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That face, though!

We’ve had a great summer. My daughter has owned more and more of my heart as days go by. Today is day #479 of the Alliance and it’s also her first day of 8th grade.  I was given the great honor of driving her to school this morning!

Of course there are challenges that come with parenting a teenage girl, even if you were in her life from the beginning. When you’re stepping in at her 12th year, there are so many attitudes and mindsets that have already settled, so many beliefs that have already taken hold, some good and some not so. There’s much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

To be completely frank with you, it’s scary and hard sometimes. I’ve always been interested in personal development, and lately I am learning a lot about leadership. The first and most important leadership assignment I carry is to lead myself in a way that is worthy of being followed.

Sometimes as a leader, you have to question patterns that were solidly entrenched before you got here. You have to lead yourself by the path of “Calm is Strong” at times when you would rather let your emotions lead you. You have to initiate crucial conversations that would be much easier to avoid. If we don’t have those conversations, we are not doing our job as protectors. We get to nudge (because love does not control) the trajectory of young leaders as they set their course in life.

This one’s a leader, a firecracker. I love her fiery spirit and insatiable joy! I’m stretching to be a good leader to her and for her, because that’s part of my mission. She keeps me following Jesus, because I’ll have to be a great follower in order to lead this one! Chuck Pattishall says the art of leadership is really the science of follower-ship. Those on step 4 follow those on step 5, who are following those on step 6.

One of my great motivations to grow consistently is that there are more people following me now, and some of them live at my house.

Maybe someday I’ll be famous outside my house. For right now, my goal is to be famous at home.

Are you feared or trusted by those you lead?

Are you loved AND respected?

Are you a super-hero at your house?

What do you have to do or become for that to be the case?

 

Best to you today!

#LennDar #Strender

 

Crucial Conversations

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This is a picture of me and Darlene a couple days after we got married. I pulled this pic up today to have a look at it and remember that feeling of “we can conquer anything, God is with us!”

Today is day #468 of the Alliance and I love how far we’ve come! We have found a stride and a rhythm of life. We’ve learned to share a home and co-parent beautiful children with un-beautiful trauma. I’ve come to respect my wife even more because sometimes in the past year I thought parenting would break me (but for God’s grace it would have) and then I think, “how did she do this by herself for 10 years?” Shout-out to single moms who make it work and keep their hearts soft in spite of the inevitable toughening that’s required to carry so much with minimal support.

I’ve been on a growth journey with the material of Brene Brown and her thoughts and research about Vulnerability. I really don’t know which came first, learning about Vulnerability or the metamorphosis I’m going through. Maybe it was time for me to change so I looked up the learning that would facilitate what I needed to know. Or maybe coming across this wisdom triggered and activated a change deep within that led to this metamorphosis. It doesn’t really matter which came first.

Is there anything more vulnerable than having crucial conversations with your spouse? How do we talk to one another when the stakes are high? Before I began learning about vulnerability, my approach was just not to talk about it until it was absolutely necessary. Well, you already know that doesn’t work. I would wait until I was angry enough to say something, which was not helpful, because you can be right and still wrong at the top of your voice. Besides, anger is a secondary emotion. It’s just there to mask another feeling we don’t really want to face.

So, silence doesn’t work and anger doesn’t work. What does? I’ve found a couple things that work for me, and I just added Crucial Conversations to my Audible library, because I’m all for finding new tools, growing intentionally before mistakes instead of learning accidentally from mistakes.

One thing that does work is having a regularly scheduled weekly conversation where you know it’s ok to talk about hard things. Dar and I have what we call Real Talk Radio, where we can say things that might be too hard to swallow if they came up without any warning. At least this way we know there’s a possibility of being confronted with a tough truth.

We get our feelings hurt when we’re confronted by a truth we don’t want to face.

Another thing that works is praying for God to help me see the other person as He sees them and then speak to that version of them. In every man there is a King and a Beggar; In every woman a Queen and a Peasant. The one you speak to will respond. Ask God to show you the Queen, show you the King, in your spouse, and then address that version of them.

I look forward to adapting more tools for braving crucial conversations and the vulnerability that accompanies that.

I am incredibly grateful for a wife who calls me up higher, and does it graciously, and who also doesn’t banish me into outer darkness (aka, the land of Couch) when I try and fail and try again to facilitate crucial conversations with rippling impact in our family and community.

We are so blessed.

Be strong and of good courage, that’s Joshua 1:9

Go in the strength that you have. Am I not sending you? That’s Judges 6:14

Be strong enough to have the conversations that scare you. Be strong enough to be tender. Be Strong & Tender. Be #Strender. That’s us!

 

#LennDar

Rest and Connection

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Yesterday I sat with a gifted young man who is about to embark on an exciting  new adventure — he’s getting married!

This is Brock from McMinnville. We haven’t had many chances before yesterday to sit and enjoy conversation. In recent months we’ve served together on the same worship team, first Sunday of each month. Brock is a brilliant drummer with an elegant musicality.

During our collaborations, I’ve been able to observe one of his great super-powers — he carries peace. I don’t just mean that he is not argumentative or quarrelsome, which he isn’t. It’s deeper than that. He has the ability to infuse peace into the people around him. The Peace Quotient of any situation rises upon his arrival. People feel comfortable to try things they would not have tried otherwise, to take risks they might otherwise avoid. He has a calming effect on those in his presence.

How is that a super-power?

See, in the beginning, back in the garden, before the law, before grace, before the need of grace, there were two things built into the source code of the world: Marriage and Sabbath, a.k.a. Connection and Rest. All throughout our story, the enemy, the world, call it what you will, has mounted a vicious campaign against those two foundational elements of our heritage. If he can keep us from Rest and Connection, keep us off balance, distracted and disconnected, he won’t even need to defeat us; we’ll simply self-destruct.

Upon careful observation, you may notice a campaign for busy-ness, a seduction into stress, an agenda for anxiety, an onslaught against marriage, family and relationship, a diabolical intentionality leveled against those moments and spaces that allow us to catch a breath and share our gifts. Seems we have exactly enough time to do everything except be what were made to be.

In what ways are you besieged by Distraction and/or Disconnection? Where do you see the foothold of these two deviants in your life and style? Top of mind for me is the smart-phone addiction that I see all around. I see us sitting together at tables not talking to each other, texting superficial factoids to anyone and everyone but the people in front of us or next to us. I see how it sends the message that “you, sitting here, are less important to me than just about anyone. In fact, I’m going to spend this time building a facade of connection with someone who isn’t even here, rather than a real connection with you — that’s how unimportant you are to me.”

What? Too blunt? I totally agree. I just wish we were that blunt, because then we’d hear ourselves say it and realize what we are communicating non-verbally. Use your phone like you use a lawn-mower — turn it off when you’re in a conversation.

Anyway, back to my friend Brock. His ability to exude tranquility facilitates Isaiah 30:15. Quietness and trust that give strength. By aiding others in coming to stillness, he allows them to experience Psalm 46:10.

I see him building teams of people into families and communities. I see him leading leaders. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

Here’s to you, Brock PeaceMaker; thank you for your quiet strength.

 

 

Solar Eclipse 2017

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I rest on Mondays.

Saturdays and Sundays are work days for me at church. Lots of people. Lots of listening to people, creating space for people, contributing energy and vision to people. Monday is the day I unplug and honor the introvert within.

Yesterday there was a solar eclipse, visible in totality from my small town in Oregon. People came from all over the country, most of them descending on Salem, the state’s capital, conveniently 45 minutes from us. There were an estimated 1 million additional travelers to the state for the purpose of viewing this celestial event.

Last thing I want to do on a Monday is see more people and be around a crowd, or even a group.

So Darlene, AKA Queen D, tells me that she wants to watch the eclipse with her friends and their family and she’d like us to go there as a family and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make memories together as a tribe, and all I’m thinking is, Blessed Aloneness, where Art Thou?

Over the decade of forming this Alliance, we’ve gotten a pretty good sense for recognizing when something is truly important to the other person, and I sensed that definitely was the  case, so I decided to go along with the family and watch this solar eclipse, blah blah, ho-hum…

Turns out I had a blast! We all did! From the first time we looked through our special eclipse glasses and saw that the moon had taken a bite out of the sun, and Sage said, “it looks like the Apple logo,” we were knit together into a shared experience that I suspect we will treasure for years. Is it possible that trust is built of memories such as these? My video was not of the magnificent display in the heavens, but on earth, the shared energy of a group that had gathered to be amazed together.

While we were all yelling and ooh-ing and aah-ing as the sun went out, I remembered this Ted Talk that I watched several years ago about how shared experience binds us together. Now me and those 20 people from yesterday have a shared memory of the eclipse that qualifies us to say, “hey remember that time?”

Relationship is made of many things. I believe an important ingredient is the memory of that one time, and that other time, and the time we did that thing…

Grand Synchronicity

“This is what faith is to me. It’s a belief in something bigger than us. It’s a confidence in a bigger plan and a synchronization of the world beyond our comprehension. It is not logical or tangible but is the essence of hope, love, and joy” 

— Ronald P. Culberson, ‘Do It Well. Make It Fun.’

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This week has been action packed, just like every week before. A friend once told me I was trying to live 20 lives in one lifetime. There’s some truth in that. I have also learned to balance my work ethic with a value and a practiced rhythm for rest and, more importantly, restoration.

I maintain several Daily Disciplines. One is reading 10 pages from a good book that equips me for my mission. Today I am reading from ‘Do It Well. Make If Fun,” by Ronald Culberson.

Worship Legacy team (the worship team I lead in McMinnville, Oregon) is growing rapidly, not in numbers, but qualitatively in unity and harmony, in leadership and love. I am so pleased to say that leaders are emerging and connecting with one anothers’ strengths to elevate the entire community. A rising tide lifts all boats.

In times when growth is evident, just as in times when it cannot be seen or felt, we rely on the assurance that there is a plan, that the world and our lives are part of a grand synchronicity, that a Creator is working in dimensions beyond our current ability to sense.

I remember the lyric of a song from my childhood:

“Many things about tomorrow,

I don’t seem to understand,

But I know who holds tomorrow,

And I know who holds my hand.”

Darlene and I are having very real, honest conversations about current events that scare us both. It’s good timing for me to read about faith on day #461 of the Alliance.

Daring Greatly

VulnerabilityI’ve heard a lot about Brene Brown from my wife and from other people in our church community. Until this past week, my only experience of her ideas was this video of her TedX talk, which taught me a lot about the importance of being vulnerable and how that allows us to move past shame.

Last Thursday on my drive to Guitar Center, I started listening to one of her books titled Daring Greatly. Then today I listened to a few more chapters on my way to and back from Portland. I’m in chapter 5 of 12 and already this book is changing my life and allowing me to dispel shame simply by putting words to it. I am learning so  much from her. Here’s a sentence that really stuck out to me: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like Courage.”

If you don’t listen to audiobooks often, I recommend the app Audible. Here’s a link to the audiobook Daring Greatly: https://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/Daring-Greatly-Audiobook/B0096BOG04

Another Brene Brown book that I’ve heard good things about is Rising Strong. I’ll move to that one after I get through Daring Greatly. Lots of time on the road, perfect for listening and learning. Andi Duli refers to his car as his university on wheels. I’m using my car that way too. I’m getting smarter by the mile, or at least becoming more vulnerable.

Do what makes you come alive!

What Makes You Come Alive

“Do More of what you love, less of what you tolerate, and none of what you hate” — John Assaraf.

When I first read that statement, I thought, that’s not realistic. You can’t live that way. Everybody has to do some things they hate, right?

I can’t explain it, but these days I find myself doing none of what I hate doing, less of what I tolerate, and more doors opening up with amazing people inviting me to come do what I love to do in their community!

I think Grace is amazing, and Favor is beyond explaining, and I think those are available to everyone. But why do some of us believe and step in, while others of us remain skeptical? I was skeptical and scared for years.

There are still times (like this morning) when I’m afraid that the dreams in my heart are too outlandish. But with every new door that opens, I believe a little bit more that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. And that’s not a spiritualized deferment for a heavenly place to come. I’m talking about life and Joy and Excitement and Enthusiasm right here, right now.

Ironic that I’m writing this at this moment, since this is a mindset I had to fight for today. I spoke promises and affirmations and declarations until my mind was right. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Let this mind be in you that was in Christ. Say what you need to say until you believe enough to come alive.

Believe again if you must. There is a great deal of difference between still believing something and believing it again.

Have an amazing day!

 

#Lion1

 

Gratitude

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I love my life! I have been so blessed! Some days are more challenging than others. When those challenging days come, I do something I learned by watching my wife. She has a gratitude journal, just a regular notebook in which she writes down things she’s grateful about. She’s been doing this for  6 years now and she has over 1400 entries in her journal. I’ve caught her just reading through this book. It’s an amazing reminder of the faithfulness of God.

For several years I’ve admired this practice and thought to myself “I should do that!” How many of us have things we should do? I should eat better. I should get more rest. I should be kinder to the dog. Tony Robbins says the only way your life changes is when your ‘should’ becomes a ‘must!’

I have 12 entries in my gratitude journal now. The first one is “46 years of life and health.” I’m very grateful for that. I like being alive and being able to move around and do things and go places and… dance. I can dance. Not saying I’m good at it, but I can do it, and you know what I did this morning? I put on some Rita Marley and danced!

I’m going to put that in my journal now. I get to dance! Now I’m feeling much more alive and excited and ready to rock Friday, which is the point I was making. Gratitude wakes you up and allows you to fight from a place of victory, not toward it. Gratitude says, “look at how good things are, look how we’re winning, look how amazing life is!”

Ok, I’m off to play! See you guys! Have a great day! There is much to be grateful about!

 

Lenn

Just Do It

img_2366I don’t blog much, pronounced “at all,” anymore, because I’m too busy living life to sit down and write about it.

Wait, that’s not entirely true. I don’t have time to sit and write the perfect, well-thought-out, highly-impacting, carefully-crafted piece that I would like to deliver. So instead I write nothing, since it can’t be perfectly planned and executed with brilliance. Does that ever stop you? Can’t do it perfectly so you don’t do it at all?

My challenge to myself this year is to stop and share an insight in the most polished form that I can muster inside of 10 minutes. The point is that even an unfinished thought expressed carries more power than a perfect thought unfired.

This is taking me to a song I learned when I was but a wee lad (who says that?). I think this off-the-cuff writing may reveal far too much about me, and now it is too late — the ship has sailed, the train is rolling.

Here’s that song that I learned over 30 years ago, and it made such an impression that 3 decades later I don’t need to look up the lyric, it’s still written on my heart:

Brighten the Corner

Do not wait until some deeds of greatness you may do

Do not wait to shed your light afar

To the many duties ever near you now be true

Brighten the corner where you are

 

Love,

Lenn

 

JWrigley Final Friday — Healing out loud

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September 30 Final Friday at JWrigley was dimly lit, and warm with the chatter of friendly conversations wafted on the earthy fragrance of pinot noir.

I haven’t been performing at wineries for the last couple years.  Partly because I wanted to simply focus on team-building in my role as worship pastor at a church. That effort is developing nicely and we have strong leaders emerging on that team, so I feel a bit more free to take on other projects.

Still, and mostly from habit, I’ve been saying “no” to winery invitations. Until a couple months ago Jody asked me to play a Final Friday at JWrigley. As soon as she asked it was “yes” in my spirit. Then as we drove back down the hill Darlene said, “I hoped you would say yes to this one!”

I’m very glad I did! We had a blast. This gig brought about a musical reunion with my two of my friends from the band We Three. They are a brilliant sibling trio band, who used to be my bandmates many years ago. We’ve not performed together in over 5 years, and this past Friday we got to revisit some of those magic memories.

Bethany is just a monster bassist and Joshua is a percussionistic force of nature! It’s so much fun playing the old tunes with these guys.

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I played alone the first hour, just Man With Guitar. That was fun too, and I think I tapped into a reservoir of passion, the insinuated sadness of our miscarriage from 2 weeks ago. We are joyful and happy, we’ve never been closer to God or one another, all that great hope-filled stuff, but the sadness is still true and real and I think some of it surfaced in my singing. I call it Healing Out Loud.

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The other thing that I felt and expressed as I sang was an ever-increasing love for my life partner best friend wife. I remember a different performance last year when I sang Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” and Darlene was visibly annoyed that I wasn’t singing it to her. What she didn’t know is that I actually was singing it to her — I just hadn’t told her yet! Last Friday, everybody knew who I was singing to.

I’ve been singing with Holly Kirby lately and I’m excited about where that collaboration will go. She joined me on vocals for some of my originals at this gig. Great vibe, powerful voice!

Those of you we met for the first time at Final Friday, so nice to meet you! Please do stay in touch. We love sharing our lives and stories with you! Thank you so much for your love and support. My wife and I totally felt embraced by all of you!

Pockets and veins of Joy everywhere, healing out loud!

Next stop, Youngberg Hill Winery on Wednesday October 12 (That’s Darlene’s birthday). Join us if you’re in the area. I’ll be performing with Petra Bolton that evening. She’s amazing, and so much fun! Ask her why we call her Blueberry!

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Love,

#ManWithGuitar

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