Quick note about the boss picture above. It was taken for us for FREE at the Unpolished Conference by our awesomely talented friend Jon Willis. He has this thing called the Simple Portrait Project where you can get some sweet photos like that for yourself.
Sometimes I Am 13 Years Old
When Jon and I were dating, I remember us saying that we wish we had met earlier. It would have been fun to play with each other as kids or to have done all of those absurd high school pranks together.
Now we understand that marriage actually gives us the opportunity, for better or for worse, to become very well acquainted with those younger versions of each other.
I have had conversations with five-year-old Jon. The little boy who made a paper crown for Lisa Dobbs and brought it to kindergarten only to be humiliated when she and Shelly Tsuji laughed at him. I have assured him that I am not Lisa Dobbs and I really like the stuff he makes for me.
Last Thursday, Jon got to spend a morning with 13-year-old Carrie.
On How I Hate Business Conferences
We were supposed to be at the Unpolished Conference at 9 am. Unpolished is a two-day conference on faith and entrepreneurship. I began the morning by pressing the snooze button 47 times. Then I was mad that I woke up late. Mad that I didn’t have time to run. Mad about wearing “nice” clothes and madder still that Jon was all cheerful and helpful with the kids. When he suggested that I bring my business cards to the conference, I lost it.
“An APP is NOT a BUSINESS, Jon! I don’t even know why we’re going to this STUPID conference anyway!”
I was 13. Stupid conference? My kids don’t even talk this way.
And here’s a really great thing that happened. He didn’t join me in my regression. He stayed 42. He invited me to sit down on the couch and pray. And then he told my 13-year-old-self that he thought she was valuable and talented, and that she has something inside her that the world needs. I was still kind of mad and I secretly decided that he was just making it up. I had read the explanation for this conference and it just wasn’t for me. I’m not ambitious. I’m not remarkably talented at ANYTHING. The thought that Jon wanted me to be something I’m not, terrified me.
I wanted to stay home and stay comfortable. I wanted to stay where I’m not going to fail or look like a fool. But I listened to what Jon said and then we left for the conference.
We got there two hours late, just in time to hear the end of Kirk Perry’s talk. And, dang it, he had to end with something great.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Part of why this quote struck me so powerfully was that our whole family had recently gone through what you might call a “Theodore Roosevelt Obsession”. It had started last year when our daughter was ill for several months. We learned that TR was a chronically sick child and we loved and admired his bravery in the face of it. “Teddy” became regular household conversation and we even started collecting mice that had been living in our attic. We let the girls keep them as pets just because Teddy did. I probably lost some of you right there.
So when Kirk Perry quoted a man who had become so dear to our hearts, I caved. I put up my white flag and allowed myself to be inspired, despite my lingering insecurities. I dared myself to believe that I don’t have to be the ‘cold and timid soul’. I began to think there was a place for me in the arena.
On How Maybe I Don’t Hate Business Conferences
During the afternoon, a new concept of “entrepreneur” began to emerge in my mind. I began to think of God as The Most Creative Person EVER, The First And Best Entrepreneur, The Ultimate Problem Solver. I began to see that Jon, in wanting us to make something together, was actually just joining God in what He is ALWAYS doing. I began to love (again) the thought of doing that as a family.
Then there was this motivational teacher guy, John Maxwell who talked about the qualities of an entrepreneur. As John Maxwell spoke, I began to understand some things about my husband that had never made sense to me before. Over the years, Jon has been consistently dissatisfied with what most Americans would consider a pretty great life. I’ve often resented this dissatisfaction. I’ve taken it personally or even considered it to be sin. This may sound silly because it’s so simple, but when Mr. Maxwell said “Average people want you to be average,” I was BLOWN AWAY. I began to see Jon’s ‘aversion to normalcy’ as a gift – to our family and to the world.
I started the day reluctant to even acknowledge that our company existed and 12 hours later I was our company’s evangelist for a conference pitch contest, proclaiming that RocketWagon exists to tell TRUTH to kids through stories. It was more than our attempt to win a $3000 prize. I like to think it was my step into the arena that my friend Teddy was talking about.
I think whenever I am faced with a situation that makes me feel inadequate, I shrink back down and become the girl that first felt that way. Thirteen.
I am lucky to have a man in my life who loves all of my ages. I’m grateful that he took the time to talk some sense into his adolescent wife, and I’m really glad she had just enough wisdom to listen. And to go to Unpolished. More on that later. I can’t wait to tell you about how Todd Henry WRECKED ME on Friday.