Haggai

A few days ago, when writing on Lamentations, I mentioned that I would circle back to this line. In Lamentations, it read:

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.

Here, in Haggai, it reads:

Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over.

I’m no rocket scientist, but I think God wants us to look at our lives every once in a while. Do some introspection. Do some reflection. Do some self-evaluation.

Be honest. Be realistic. And take some time to do it right.

The last time I did this, at the turn of the year, it was such a breath of fresh air. I was able to see where I had been, what I had accomplished, where I had fallen short, and how I had improved. I was able to set new goals, revisit my one page life plan, and see new opportunities in a new light.

Do yourself a favor and schedule a 2-4 hour date with yourself.

Bring paper and a pen.

Start writing.

See what happens.

For more guidance on how to do this well, check out my book, Life Doc.

The Daily Omer. LifeDoc. Omer Dylan Redden

Lamentations (5)

As this short book comes to a close, I want to remind you that it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to feel anger. It’s ok to feel hurt. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok. You can feel those things. You can express all of that to God. God is big enough to handle it.

When you read chapter 5 of Lamentations, you see all of those feelings from Jeremiah, as he expresses them to God.

The language is colorful. The tone is full of pain.

Here’s how the book wraps up:

And yet, God, you’re sovereign still,
    your throne intact and eternal.
So why do you keep forgetting us?
    Why dump us and leave us like this?
Bring us back to you, God—we’re ready to come back.
    Give us a fresh start.
As it is, you’ve cruelly disowned us.
    You’ve been so very angry with us.”

Don’t you want it to end two lines earlier than it actually does? I wanted it to end with “Bring us back to you, God – we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.”

That would be a good ending. An ending of hope. An ending that is really a new beginning.

But Jeremiah doesn’t end it that way.

He ends it in true lament fashion. Because he’s still in it.

When you’re in it, it’s tough to have hope, and that’s okay.

I’ll post this video again, from Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a Holocaust survivor. May it help you and may God help you.

Lamentations (4)

There’s a line in chapter 3 of Lamentations that I’ll be revisiting when I write about Haggai because the two correlate so well. The line is this:

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.

I’ll get to that in a few days, but for now, let’s dive into Lamentations 4…

We’ve already seen the first two and a half chapters of Lamentations were full of cries of lament. Then somewhere in chapter 3, Jeremiah started writing about God’s tender love and mercies. Then, late in chapter 3, it almost turned vindictive. Now, in chapter 4, it seems Jeremiah is describing the state of the land and the people.

Let’s just say it isn’t pretty.

Whether it’s hyperbole or real, this is one of the lines that you simply can’t believe is in the Bible:

Nice and kindly women
    boiled their own children for supper.
This was the only food in town
    when my dear people were broken.

It’s awful. It’s grotesque. And yet, it’s here in Lamentations 4.

Somehow, someway, Jeremiah found himself living through this hell on earth. It wasn’t because of his sins that Jerusalem and Zion were being punished. Yet, he wasn’t spared from having to experience it.

I think about different times in history when God’s children, His followers, have had to live through hell on earth. I think of Viktor Frankl and Dr. Edith Eva Eger.

Maybe you’ve gone through hell on earth. I’ve had a few times of it myself.

Here’s a video that may help you. I know it’s helped me.

Lamentations (3)

After two and a half chapters of lament, it’s nice to finally get a break. But before we get to the break, I have to quote a couple lines from the start of Lamentations 3:

He turned me into a skeleton 
of skin and bones, then broke the bones...
He locked me up in deep darkness,
like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.

...Even when I cry out and plead for help,
he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.

Man, Jeremiah was really feeling it, eh?

When you have that feeling that the world is against you, then you feel like God is against you too… wuff!

Read the first 18 verses of chapter 3 in Lamentations, and you’ll think it couldn’t get much worse than this.

Then all of a sudden, somewhere around verses 19-21, the tone changes.

The whole mood switches.

Here’s what Jeremiah writes:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.
31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
    in throwing roadblocks in the way...

Isn’t that great?! I jived so much with this section of Lamentations that I actually memorized it. If you don’t want to memorize that whole section, at least keep this in your heart and mind moving forward: “God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.”

See you in chapter 4.

2021 Recap

***LONG POST ALERT BUT WORTH THE READ***
Laughing as I look at this memory (picture above) because it was borderline prophetic.

Eight years ago, I found myself on Donald Miller‘s website as an advertisement. He was running Storyline Conferences (before StoryBrand was a thing for businesses), and I was a wandering, aimless, millennial. I had a college degree, even some master-level work, but I was struggling to find my way. Over-qualified for some work and under-qualified for others. My wife and I had 2 kids, our 3rd was on the way, and I was making less than $40K per year working at a factory, questioning every day of my existence. I went to his conference and learned a ton about living a life on purpose. Before I knew it, I had a plot, an ambition, and was embracing conflict to become a better character. I was also following Michael Hyatt, reading his blog, listening to his podcast, and learning how to live my Best Year Ever.

Some of you know the story. I won’t rehash all of it here. But I’m very thankful to have met Chandler Bolt soon after that journey started. He gave me a chance in his start-up, and here we are almost 7 years later.

I’ve planned my life. I’ve found clarity. I’ve defeated confusion.

–Donald Miller and Storyline helped me take the first steps.
–Michael Hyatt helped me set up personal goals and the best year ever, year after year.
–Chandler and Self-Publishing School have helped me continue the journey of professional growth and self-development.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on 2021. The word of the year was ADVENTURE. Man, was it ever! And before I dive into it, here’s the disclaimer: I don’t share all of this to brag, but rather to show you what’s possible when you live on purpose, when you create a story for yourself and your family that’s worth living into.

Here are a few of the big wins / highlights / accomplishments:

FAMILY WINS:
–My wife Hannah Redden published her first book, “Me and Jesus Covered in Pee.”
–We added 15 animals to our mini-ranch (Now we have 1 horse, 2 ponies, 2 pet rats, 2 mini-goats, 3 dogs, 8 chickens). Maybe the partridge in the pear tree comes next year?!
–We personally put in 10 acres of fence and built stalls in our barn.
–Our kids participated in activities they love: figure skating, hockey, basketball, and horse riding.
–Sevaeh was invited for a virtual school visit to show off her book to old classmates in Ohio.
–We enrolled in counseling as individuals to keep working on our whole selves.
–We remodeled a bathroom and basement, bought a truck and trailer, bought a 4-wheeler, and have had a grand ol’ time!

PERSONAL WINS:
–Hiked 100 times.
–Wrote 72 blog posts on what I’ve been learning in the Bible.
–Invested a good amount in the market and saw solid returns.
–Spoke at Author Advantage Live.
–In business, at SPS, we launched 2 new products that have been huge drivers of growth and success for our clients.
–Met one of my life-long mentors, Rob Bell, in a Writing Session and got to collaborate on book #5.
–Published my book #5, “On The John: A Devotional for Dads.
–Completed 4 Masterclasses and read roughly 50 books.

My friends, you can accomplish a lot in a year. And 2022 can be even better than that.

Plan your life. Find clarity. Defeat confusion.

I’m living proof that you can do it too.

New Book Alert! On The John – A Devotional for Dads

My newest book, “On The John: A Devotional for Dads” is live on Amazon! WOOHOO!!! I’m also doing a promo around it. Here are the details:

The Kindle version is live and free today.

Just go to Amazon and search “Omer Redden On The John Devotional,” and it should come up. I’d give you the direct link, but I want Amazon to pick up those searches especially in this first month.

The paperback will be released later this week. I will let you know when it’s ready.

If you purchase and review the book any time over the next 12 days, please let me know. I’m doing a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway, picking two winners each day, but you have to post a review to be entered to win!

Lamentations (2)

It’s tough to talk about grief and sorrow. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us. But I wanted to take a minute to share a few of the lines here in chapter 2 of Lamentations. In my mind, it perfectly describes the physical state of suffering:

The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground.
   They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap--
   the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with dirt.

My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.
   My insides have turned to jelly over my people's fate.
   Babies and children are fainting all over the place.

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever felt quite that bad. I had COVID about a month ago, and for two days, I couldn’t get out of bed, felt the 103F fever and the aches all over. I had the follow-up rash for a week and itched like the dickens. Taste and smell are still hit and miss. But it was just me, my suffering, my sickness, my angst. And I know I didn’t have it as bad as some. Some have died from it, others have been in the hospital for weeks, and still others have barely shown symptoms. It’s kind of crazy.

But that’s a physical sickness, which then affects you emotionally and relationally.

What Jeremiah is describing in Lamentations is an emotional and relational situation, which then affects you physically.

Both suck.

I won’t go into all the details here, but I’ve had a handful of those moments in my life, and I’m sure you’ve had some too. That line, “my insides have turned to jelly,” gets me. Sitting “silent on the ground.” Dressed “in rough penitential burlap.”

I haven’t dressed in burlap, but I have stayed in the same clothes for two or three days, with my brain and heart feeling like they’re in a fog. I’ve felt like my insides are in shambles because of the emotional distress. And you know what?

I survived. I felt the pain, embraced it, and then, eventually, was able to move on.

So here’s how we’ll wrap this up and put a bow on it:

If you’ve ever felt like Jeremiah or the people of Jerusalem during this time, it’s ok. Grieving and expressing sorrow is part of life. A sucky part, for sure. But you don’t have to hide it, you don’t have to feel isolated and alone.

To steal a final line from Lamentations 2, “Get up and cry out in prayer. Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.”