31 December 2013

Looking Back, Looking Forward

This past year I took a leap of faith. Towards the end of 2011 I had an epiphany. It was one of those “aha-but-the-thought-kinda-scares-me” ideas.

So I lulled the idea into remission for a season. Meanwhile, throughout 2012 I spoke with some trusted advisors, friends and family about the idea just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. And everywhere I turned I encountered confirmation.

Which made me scareder. (In proper English, that would be translated as “more scared.”)

So, I sat on the idea some more. From the time the thought hit me about two years ago until the time I actually started doing something about it, more than a full year had passed.

In March this year I took the plunge, along with some other brave souls. We registered PlayFull as a not-for-profit corporation. Suddenly, we were official.

Since then, I would characterize our progress as slow but steady. Here are some tangibles to celebrate:

1. Our website went live in mid-July. It currently features more than 100 articles—some funny, some serious; some short, some long. There’s poetry, photography, book reviews, and thought-provoking quotes. Topics range from play and architecture to pajama day in the workplace. We’ve written about children’s ministry and team building, death and humility. We’ve cited Harvard professors and comic strip authors.

2. In October, we held our first PlayDate with Step Up to Help based in Denver, Colorado.

3. We honed two stories in our PlayFull Faith series. The first is a retelling of creation and the second is a retelling of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Though there are many more stories to come in this series, we already have requests for copies of the first two.

4. Finally, we rounded out our board of directors and opened a bank account just a few weeks ago.

To be sure, more has been accomplished but these are the highlights.  For a crazy, upstart idea I’d say that’s not bad, though, eh.

In 2014, we will hopefully receive our 501c3 status from the IRS.  When that happens we will be able to more fully live into the vision.

On that note, here’s what I see:

I see groups of people learning and growing by playing together. I see teams equipped to work together in unity. I see leaders thinking creatively about obstacles they face. I see marriages renewed, conflicts resolved, and friendships forged.

I see faith invigorated. I see people discovering a God who dances. I see artistic expression. I see PlayFull’s stories shed new light on age-old traditions. I see people praying, simply, playfully.

In the new year we will write, photograph, facilitate conversation and collaboration. We will work on at least one book and continue to direct others to helpful resources. We will strive to complete our PlayFull Faith series. We will form PlayGroups in multiple locations. We will coach leaders and fuel self-awareness. Bottom line: We will strive to help others "play from the inside-out." Our desire is to provide various playful pathways towards personal, relational and organizational health. So...

Look out 2014. It’s time to play.

Thanks to all of you in advance for joining in. Your participation and your words of encouragement are invaluable.


21 December 2013

"When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego..."

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.

by D.H. Lawrence

Play from the inside-out. Like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

20 December 2013

A Childlike Adult

PlayFull board member Doreen Olson shared this quote the other day. I wanted to pass it along. Good stuff!

PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

18 December 2013

Christmas Funnies

Hump Day is Humor Day at PlayFull. Here are a few seasonal funnies to brighten your week. Enjoy, friends.

PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

16 December 2013

20 Shortcuts to Unhappiness

Go ahead. Be miserable. I give you permission.

In fact, let me give you a hand with it, okay? Here’s a list of twenty things you can do. I purposely made the list short so you could keep it in your wallet, pocket or coin purse. Which one of these are you good at? Which one needs more practice? 

20 Shortcuts to Unhappiness

1. Eliminate risk.

2. In everything, compete.

3. Live in the past.

4. Neglect gratitude.

5. Expect disappointment.

6. Insist on conformity.

7. Don’t exercise.

8. Justify yourself. Blame others.

9. Get busy.

10. Argue.

11. Believe virtual reality.

12. Pray less; worry more.

13. Eat on the run.

14. One-up others.

15. Hoard money.

16. Limit mystery.

17. Smirk at strangers.

18. Nurse insults.

19. Exact revenge.

20. Form a clique.


PlayFull is dedicated to helping people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.  Thank you for reading. Be happy!  

12 December 2013

How To Discover Calling

PlayFull is dedicated to helping people play from the inside-out. Stay abreast of thought-provoking and inspiring content: like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

11 December 2013

A Funny Cosby Show Christmas Scene

Classic Bill Cosby.  Olivia asks Cliff, "What race is Santa Claus?" A playful question with a playful response. Enjoy, friends.

Hump Day is Humor Day at PlayFull. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with uplifting content multiple times a week. Thank you for stopping by!

10 December 2013

When Meh Strikes

Some days you wake up and when you think of the hours ahead you say to yourself: “Meh.” There’s nothing you’re anxious about in particular but neither is there anything you’re excited about. It’s a “meh” kind of day. Middle of the road.

So, you compose a mental checklist, searching for a way out of the “meh”, something to light your fire. But certain tasks need to get done today—and there are only so many hours in the day—so there will be no time for lighting fires any time soon. In fact, the list will likely spill over to the next day. More “meh” tomorrow, too.

And you know that if you neglect the list, it will catch up with you. Sometimes, mundane things cannot be put off. Better to git ‘er done now, eh. So, you resign yourself to “meh”—but feel a little unhappy about it still.

When this happens, here are some things you could keep in mind:

1. Tell yourself: “There’s nothing wrong with a ‘meh’ day. ‘Meh’ happens. It’s normal.”

2. Meh does not diminish love one speck. Human history is filled with days when those who felt meh were loved beyond measure, though their feelings might have told them otherwise.

3. Don’t wait to feel exuberant to sing. Sing anyway. Whatever comes to mind: from childhood, the radio, a hymnal. Make your own tune to a billboard slogan. Don’t take it too seriously.

4. Or take 15 minutes to just write. You never know where Imagination might take you in that short time. Think of it as planting a flag in the ground of “meh”, decorating the land with a flash of color.  Liken something right in front of you to an idea, feeling or person. That loose thread reminds you of a kind word that you haven’t said yet. That leaf on the ground, humility. The grain of salt, a friend.

5. Have faith that every “meh” day serves a purpose beyond mere “meh.”

6. Take some seconds to just be still, close your eyes, be present to the fact that you are breathing, living.  

7. Tell friends and family you love them. A “meh” day could be someone’s last. Saying “I love you” out of routine is better than not saying it at all. And the saying of it jostles the torpor. It’s a form of recollection: “Oh, yes. This is who I am. I remember now.”

8.  Doodle.

9.  Light a candle. Look at the flame. It is what it is. It does not need to exert effort to shine brightly. It doesn’t add anything to the simple act of burning. Even on a “meh” day, this is you.

I hope you can see that meh days are good days. Thank you for taking the time with me just now so I could share that with you. Be loved.



PlayFull exists to help people and organizations play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

05 December 2013

Someone Who Understands Grace

Later today I will fly to Austin, Texas to meet with PlayFull’s new board member, Dave Marmion. You can see from the picture: he's one serious dude. :) 

I met Dave for the first time in Madrid, Spain back in 2003 when he was there with his brother Rob on a brief research trip, of sorts. A friend of theirs named Kelly Wills (now Kelly Jennemann) was planning on moving to Spain to pursue ministry among young people and they wanted to see if there were any churches who’d be keen to be a support to Kelly.

As it turns out, Kelly ended up doing an internship with us for some months. In theory, she was slated to move on after that, but we managed to “suck her into the vortex” (as we’d say jokingly).  So, we had the privilege of working with Kelly—a creative, passionate soul—for some years until she moved back to the States. After I met Dave that summer, however, I had little (if any) contact with him—but he continued to follow our ministry via our mutual friend Kelly.

In 2010, my wife, kids and I moved from Spain to Chicago. And that is when I really started getting to know Dave through some great phone conversations. He is a kindred spirit. And this is why I asked him to serve on the board of PlayFull:

He understands and lives out an ethos of grace, grace, wild grace.

Dave understands that we grow the most in the unknowns of life. He had been planning to step into ministry in Europe for a season but God had different plans. The desire to pursue ministry in Europe was in itself a step into the big unknown. I can personally attest that ministry is just about as messy as anything gets. (That may surprise you, but it’s true).

That said, when God directed Dave in a different path, I was impressed to see how Dave was able to open up his hands and relinquish that dream, even though it hurt to do so. Skeptics may have said, “Don’t give up. Keep pursuing your dreams, no matter what!” They might label such relinquishment “unwise”, “insane” or “depressing.”

I think of it as “trusting.” When one relinquishes something that dear, one does so as a sign of trust. "Opening our hands" is a way of saying, “I trust you, God, that—even though it hurts to give this up—you have my best interest at heart and you will give me something even better than I can imagine right now.” When we open our hands like this, we may need to wait for what is better, but in time it will come. I suppose this is the same kind of trust that infused Abraham with strength when God asked him to be willing to give up his own son. It seems crazy in our eyes, but God knew better and provided a way out of the insanity.

Yes, Dave understands that grace is wild. And he understands that in the messiness of grace there is a life of deep, abundant, unshakable joy to be found.

In short, he understands what PlayFull means when we say we want to help people and groups “play from the inside-out.” He's practiced that himself. 

I could not be more thrilled to work alongside this kindred spirit. Welcome, Dave. I look forward to seeing you later today!  And to your beautiful family…Allyson, Zach and Owen: I look forward to playing with you all, too.  Hopefully, I won’t freak y’all out too much…



PlayFull exists to help people and organizations play from the inside-out. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to stay abreast of content designed to mess with your mind and heart. :)