I can respond to the title in one sentence but that’s not what we do here. I have to use 1,000 words. Bear with me, please. You know I like to talk.
Last year I kept a reading journal on the blog. My reading journal continues, I just don’t share it with you. I wrote out a list of books I wanted to read/re-read on January 1. Here is the list:
- High Output Management
- The Lean Farm
- Good Profit
- Landscapes & Cycles
- Louder & Funnier
- The Farming Manual
- Malabar Farm
Do you know what I did with that list? I read some, I put others aside for another time. I appended to the list. Good Profit and Superforecasting seemed, at the time, to be impactful but I would have a hard time telling you what they were about without flipping through the pages again. Landscapes & Cycles was preaching to the saved and I set it aside. Lean Farm and I couldn’t seem to meet up. High Output Management continues to challenge me. Louder and Funner was quietly hilarious and somewhat accusational. I have read enough of Wodehouse that when I re-read Malabar farm I heard the narrative in the voice of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, bragging that he was asked to speak at the meeting but had declined because he was too busy with the farm, old horse.
So what happened to MacBeth or Republic? Were those failures?
Maybe. Kinda. But mostly I think I got the idea of the first 100 pages of Republic then decided that now was not the right time. And that is true of a good number of books I run into. Today’s Chris Jordan doesn’t need that book. Tomorrow’s might though. I have never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example. Look, I know. I get it. But they don’t seem to scratch an itch.
Is this failure? Maybe. But not the kind of failure we are looking for.
BTW, my current active stack (piled to my right) includes:
- Tale of Two Cities (dad asked me to read this with him)
- High Output Management (yes, still. Too meaty to speed through)
- Algorithms to Live By
- Words that Work
- Full Moon
The book Turn the Page discusses the importance of reading several books at once and finding connections between them, discovering ways reading one book impacts your thoughts of another. How will Algorithms to Live By impact Tale of Two Cities? I dunno. It may not.
But Turn the Page also talks about the importance of sampling many books and setting the majority of them aside. Also, the author of Turn the Page is a bit of a bore, referring to himself in third person and constantly quoting himself in bold print.
Chris Jordan thinks the author of the book Turn the Page is a bit of a bore, referring to himself in third person and constantly quoting himself in bold print.
If you read the book you’ll understand that joke. There are some good things in the book but you have to get past the writing style.
So what is this all about, Chris? Why are you sharing this with the world? Why are you, who just finished bragging about how humble you are and what a complete flop you are as a farmer, now list out the books you haven’t read? What is the point?
If I were to ask you, “What do we grow on our farm?” you might answer, “Well, Chris, you seem to have cattle and chickens. Sometimes pigs. There are bees out there somewhere but you don’t talk about that much. I guess you grow hay. Your dad has horses. So…is that what you want? Or are you looking for a more clever answer like, “money”. That’s the answer Henry Galt gave the judge when asked what he farms.”
You are not technically wrong. We grow grass. There are cows. Those things are here. And, yes, we pay a little tax on a very little income each year. But that’s not what we do here.
We grow people.
Our farm is a ministry more than anything. It’s about people.
And not just the six of us.
Jesus boiled life down to two simple tasks:
- Love God
- Serve People
Cows are a fun extra.
I can’t make you grow. I can’t make you read my blog. But the hope is that you, reader, will happen across my blog and I will grab your attention long enough to plant a seed. I tell you about the things I wrestle with. I tell you what I am reading and thinking and enjoying and experiencing. I ask you to celebrate when our marriage survives another year. I ask you to cry with me about our daughter’s illness. I ask you to share my burden when I lose a calf through ignorance or inaction. I embrace you as a part of my extended family. I want to hear about your struggles. I want to read what you are reading.
So I lead by example. I write about the things that make the farmer. ..the things that make the marriage. …the things that make the family. …the things that add meaning to our lives.
We home school our children but we don’t do school at home. There are no classrooms, no desks, no ringing bells. No schedule. We read. They read. We discuss. They participate. We sell farm products. They stand beside us at every step.
I write about my reading list in the same way. I think this is how I can serve you. I scatter seeds. Life is not easy, on the farm or in town. My days are long. I get tired. Julie gets tired. We work through difficulties together. We read books together. We walk through life together. My post about humility and failure was not seeking sympathy from my small group of readers/friends. I was sharing. This stuff is hard. Someone recently told me that I make everything look easy. I am, indeed, very blessed. But it is not easy. I meant that post to be an encouragement to the reader. This stuff is not easy. But I continue to plug away, trying, failing, trying again. Failure, we learned in church this weekend, builds faith.
I am a man of faith. And I do this to serve you.
I write to bless you. I hope you write back.
Chris Jordan hopes you will write back.
I’m sure with your family and church families, that you hear the occasional “Atta Boy”. Just in case you don’t, or it’s been a while since someone said it to you…. “Atta Boy”.
When I think of farming, I think of community. I don’t comment much but I do read your blog, I cry along with you, I wince at the hard lessons and I make lots and lots of notes to myself and I am thankful for farmers like you, Matron and others that are sharing what it really means to have a farm. I like to think I’m part of this community.
Thank you for sharing.
You packed a lot into a paragraph there. You may not know what a gem Matron really is. What a true friend she has been to Julie and me. There are many of you I have never met but consider friends. The community is real.
Keep on. We do life, imperfectly but intensionally, loving God and others where we are.
Thank you for sharing — your thoughts and your beautiful family. Your blog does provoke thought, and depth of thought. Please, never stop.