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JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Richard Branson & His Notebooks

From an interview in the Wall Street Journal, 5.24.21 —

What’s your most useful work habit?


If I have a meeting with people, I’ll take notes. If I’m traveling on a Virgin plane, I’ll take notes. I’ll listen to the staff, to the customers.

If you’re not taking notes, I think it’s offensive.

A staff member will give you an idea or tell you a frustration or make a suggestion for improvement, and they will know straight away that if you don’t write it down, you’re not going to deal with it. 

I’ve taken notes on all the fun things my grandchildren and children have said. Looking back on them, if you’ve got an 18th or a 21st birthday party for your children, it’s wonderful how one can embarrass them with some of the things they’ve said in the past. One of my favorites is, when Joan and I got married on Necker Island, when Sam was four and Holly was seven, friends of ours in front of Sam said that they were getting married. This was the day after the wedding, and Sam turned to them and said, “You can’t be getting married, you haven’t had children yet!”

If you don’t write it down, you’re not going to remember it.

Lift as You Climb

Jordan Chiles was ready to quit gymnastics. She had been passed over for big assignments year after year due to lack of consistency. The environment was toxic, and many in the gymnastics community had written her off.

But Simone said, I see you Queen. In 2019, Simone invited Jordan to relocate from Washington to Texas to join the gym that she OWNS- a safe space with a positive environment.

When Jordan arrived, the first thing they worked on was not building her skills but instead building her confidence.

Two years later, Simone and Jordan are headed to the Olympics together.

This is what we mean by lift as you climb.

Trophies are nice but the biggest flex is winning together and creating an environment where others thrive too.

—- That’s from a June 29, 2021 piece from the online team of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” about the US Olympic trials in St. Louis.

Just across the river from here.

But you and I don’t have to look even that far to find someone we can lift as [we] climb.

That’s part of what 1st Thessalonians 5:11 is about when it says we are to “Encourage one another and build each other up.”

Who’s it gonna be today? And how?

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: What About Doing Less?

Doing less isn’t about the doing, it’s about the less. — The Minimalists

Church is Hard

Church is hard.

Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.

Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.

Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.

Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.

Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.

Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.

Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.

Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.

Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.

Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.

Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.

Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.

Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.

Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.

Church is hard for the sinners.

Church is hard for me.

It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.

However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.

But, here is the beauty of church—

Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.

Church is a body.

Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.

Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.

Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.

Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.

Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.

Church is a lesson in faith and trust.

Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.

Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.

Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.

So even on the hard days at church—

The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my spouse because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.

I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there. — by Ariana Freelen

—- All I can add is this, from our big leather book:

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:22-25, the Message version)

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Uncertainty & Fear

“It isn’t enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertianity we’re so sure that villians lurk aound every corner that we we’ll create them ourselves if we can’t find them. For while fear may keep us vigilant, it’s also fear that tears us apart.” — Rod Serling

I’m Out of Excuses, part 3 of 3.

Same subject, same source, with My Real Life But Anonymous [see Part 1 from two days ago for why] Friend’s conclusion —

If the Wesleyan doctrine of Sanctification is summarized as “being made perfect in love,” then he has it.

His thoughts, his actions, his attitudes are immersed in authentic, passionate love, love for God and love for others.

Those who know him consistently experience his love for them and for his Savior.


Double Wow!

Not only am I out of excuses, now I have a new example.

You, too?

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: When Mom Has Dementia

Drives with Mom are just the loveliest thing. Today she patted my hand and offered, “Stan I appreciate you so much; I would be your mother if you would like me to.” I almost responded, “Well you have been for 53 years.“ Thankfully, I caught myself.

After a deep breath, I said, “I would really like that. I could use one these days.”

She squeezed my hand and said, “You got it.” — Rev. Stan Mitchell

I’m Out of Excuses, part 2

Same source, same subject as yesterday here –

He has intentionally placed himself under the spiritual authority of another, in this case, me. This is extremely humbling because I think the roles should be reversed and I should be under his authority.

He is a far better example of an authentic Christian, follower of Jesus, and minister of the gospel than am I.

I know the writer and his integrity. He’s not kidding.

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Destination or….?

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight. — Jim Rohn

I’m Out of Excuses

A long-time friend and colleague writes with intentional anonymity of someone he knows who lives and serves in very dangerous circumstances

I know each morning as I am praying and studying, he has already been at the task and will stay at it longer than I will.

Additionally, I have watched him set aside a day or a week or a month to pursue the Lord’s will seeking to know the mind of the Lord. He is too busy to slack in this critical task. He has observed the shipwrecks of ministry over time and does all he can to maintain his intimacy with Jesus.

While he is a very studious, serious, devoted minister of the Gospel, he is quick to laugh, enjoys life and brings joy to others. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.

I’m out of excuses, how about you?

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Something New?

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. — Alan Cohen