The Hero Must Struggle


Dear Lewis,

In every story worth telling the hero undergoes a transformation. To experience this transformation he must face adversity, he must struggle through pain, and he must persevere through suffering. It’s during what’s called the Second Act, the longest part of the story, that he struggles most. Your grandpa, PaPa, is in a Second Act season of life.

In the Second Act the hero is refined through the fires of struggle and suffering. As the hero is being refined, his goal is reshaped – not abandoned – because his struggles have helped put things in perspective. It’s the shift in perspective that causes the hero to be transformed into who he must become in order to get to the end of the story.

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It’s All My Fault


Dear Lewis,

Today we took you to the hospital. You haven’t been feeding well, and it’s causing your mom a lot of pain. It frustrates her, even angers her because it hurts so badly.

The doctor diagnosed you as being tongue-tied. This means your frenulum (the little piece of skin connecting the bottom of your mouth to the underside of your tongue) extends too far forward. This prevents you from moving your tongue through its full range of motion. Right now it makes breastfeeding difficult, but later in life it could affect your speech and cause you other problems. So we decided to let the doctor cut that little piece of skin.

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I Hope You Find Failure


Dear Lewis,

Tuesday was a creative day. I spent it working at the University of Utah, trying to get people to hang out at our booth, demo our products, and sign up for our mailing list.

I love these events. For one thing, nothing forces you to be creative like trying to engage strangers for eight hours. Nothing will sharpen your mind and teach you to be a better communicator like having only two seconds to capture someone’s attention.

The other thing I love is that, in these situations, you will always fail more than you succeed. To be blunt – you get rejected. Continue reading…

A Mother’s Day Reminder


Dear Lewis,

After church you and I ran some errands, ate lunch, and then we both took a nap. You’ve been asleep for an hour now, while my nap only lasted about 15 minutes. You might be wondering where your mom is. That’s why I can’t sleep.

While we’re napping, your mom is at a yoga class. Instead of being lazy like us she’s working hard to get back into shape, like she was before she got pregnant.

While lying in bed next to you I experienced something I’d never felt before. My body was totally relaxed and my mind still. Yet something in me was stirring. The best I can put it is that my heart was pulling my mind through the past year.

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Mistaken For A Homeless Man…Again


Dear Lewis,

If you smoke cigarettes you’ll end up homeless. Well, not actually homeless. Let me explain.

Your mom doesn’t want me to smoke because it’s bad for me. She’s right, of course. Still, occasionally I smoke, and then have to go through all these steps to hide it from her.

Today I went to the library while your mom was at work. Long walks in cold weather are perfect for hiding your smoking habit. The walk itself gives you a chance to air out. Wearing a beanie prevents the smell from getting in your hair; an old worn out coat your wife doesn’t like keeps the odor from your skin and is hidden in the back of the closet without suspicion; and having a beard as thick as mine allows you to work up a thick lather to rinse away the scent from your face.

I’d been at the library for about an hour when your mom called to say she was getting off early. “Great,” I said, lying through my smoke-stained teeth. “I’ll see you soon.” I hung up the phone, slid When the Emperor Was Divine into my pocket, and thought very carefully about what I was going to do next.

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I’m Working On It


Dear Lewis,

I love you, very much. But your life would be so much easier if you would just trust me. I know you need to eat every few hours. I know when you need a nap. I know you need to be changed when the blue line appears on the front of your diaper, or when smells, awful smells, emanate from the back.

I don’t get mad at you for crying over these things. I tell you I love you. I tell you I know how long it’s been since your last bottle or diaper change. I tell you that if you’ll just be patient and stop crying you’ll see I’m working on it.

But you don’t. When I walk out of the living room and into the kitchen – to make your bottle – you cry harder. When I put you in your crib – to keep you safe while I wash my hands, get a diaper and find you some new clothes – you scream louder.

Those moments when it looks like I’m abandoning you, that’s when I’m closest to giving you what you need.

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Why You Shouldn’t Trust “God’s Plan”


Dear Lewis,

One of the most important things I can teach you applies both to writing and God’s plans: don’t get too attached to your original idea.

When you get a flash of inspiration for a story, sit and write about the idea for 10 minutes, and watch how the original idea evolves. Then do it again for another 10 minutes, then another, and then another. In a short period of time your original idea, which is still in there somewhere, will be so much bigger, deeper and greater than you first imagined.

My point is your idea of the story is never the whole story.

Especially with God.

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