Top Ten || August

This song from River Valley Worship is catchy, encouraging, and worshipful. It's been on heavy rotation this month. 

There's nothing better, there's nothing greater
Life with You, Jesus
Love that is stronger, hope that is brighter
Life with You, Jesus

Whoa. Here it is on Spotify.

2) The Deep Focus playlist

When you're wanting something playing in the background while you go all in on a task, the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify will do the trick. In fact, I'm listening to it right now. Over 2.8 million people following the playlist agree, it's a great resource for atmospheric music you can listen to as fuel for making progress on important projects. 

3) Benita's story

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I traveled to the Dominican Republic with HOPE International this month and met Benita Lorenzo. In my Instagram post about my experience meeting Benita, I wrote this: Over ten years ago, Benita took her first loan from Esperanza International, HOPE International's partner in the D.R., and used it to sell clothes out of a bag as she walked around her community. Over time, she wanted to be home with her children more frequently, so she moved the business into her wooden house. She’s scaled the business to the point of building a cement structure next door. Her family now lives above the storefront, and they rent out their older wooden house to tenants. Benita also owns a salon that her adult daughter runs. From selling clothes by foot to growing a full-fledged enterprise—amazing. She told us one secret to her success is that she doesn’t just pay back loans, she also invests in future growth.

4) "Your Legacy Is People" from Todd Henry

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Todd Henry's podcast shows up frequently on this list because it's a great podcast. This episode challenges you to recognize your work is important, but your impact on people is even more so. Are we consumed by our projects that we neglect the people we claim are most important to us? Is our deepest impact happening in our outputs or relationships? Todd Henry discusses these questions and more in this episode that encourages you to invest more fully in the people around you.

5) This sermon from Jimmy McNeal

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Jimmy McNeal is a worship pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. Although he's usually leading people in music--he can preach, too. He taught as a guest at my church at the end of July and shared a powerful reflection on John 14. What does it really mean that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life? Be encouraged by the truth Jimmy illuminates in his sermon. 

6) "Beyond Digital Ethics" from Cal Newport

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Cal Newport starts his article by citing an interview Ezra Klein did with Zeynep Tufekci in which the two discuss YouTube and its algorithms that suggest increasingly extreme videos as you continue following their recommendations for you. I had just recently listened to this interview before I read the article, and Cal goes on to draw an important insight from it--that we have a justified reason to be frustrated with the large tech giants, but an even greater barrier to staying focused on what matters is ourselves. "We need to harness the discomfort we increasingly feel toward the current crop of tech giants and redirect it toward an honest examination of our own behavior," he says. Instead of simply getting frustrated at The Machine, we should also limit our time mindlessly watching videos on the internet.

7) The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

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I absolutely consumed this book. I blazed through it. It grabs your attention and won't let it go. If you love coffee, stories of entrepreneurship, and international affairs--you'll love this book. Dave Eggers tells the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemi American from a challenging part of San Francisco who goes from being a doorman to launching a coffee importing business sourcing beans from Yemen. You learn about how coffee farmers are typically treated, what it means to work passionately (and, at times, dangerously) toward seeing a vision realized, and just how many steps went into making your morning cup of joe a reality. Beware, the book contains explicit language. But, it is true to the experience and not superfluous. 

8) Gmail Smart Compose

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In Gmail's redesign, there's a feature that automatically completes sentences in your emails for you. Apparently, it's been available for a while, but it just got turned on in my account. It saves time and is scary smart (as most Google tools are). If you use Gmail but haven't seen this feature yet, here's an article on how to set it up.

9) This photo from Michael Rothermel

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My colleague and friend, Michael Rothermel, took this photo of a woman named Joyous. I've been thinking about how much it symbolizes juggling a desire to be great at a craft while also being a great parent. Michael wrote about this series of photos on his Facebook profile: "When Joyous and I talked about her portraits, she wanted to make some images that represent the tension she feels as a creative and a parent. Should she give up photography, a craft she’s invested so much time and money in, to focus more on her children? I admire her willingness to live in the midst of this tension...and to love her kids well...". 

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10) The Start Stretching app

I have established a track record of disciplined cardiovascular and strength training, but my commitment to grow flexibility is dismal. I found this app this month, and it's helping. It is basic, free (with the option to pay a small fee to remove ads), and goes with me everywhere. The app guides you through 4:30 minutes of helpful stretches and is a great tool to use toward greater physical health.