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Top 7 = "London Oreos" + burning Bob Ross

blog top 7 Mar 28, 2022

This week’s Top 7 includes a flashback to the London trip with Ivey, back in 2017…

… as well as more reflection I did amidst the daily grind of the final full week of March 2022.

For kicks and giggles, here’s a pic of the boys, taking out the trash on Sunday afternoon. Yes, both buckets are full. And, Salter is actually carrying two extra bags that we sat against these two massive containers. 

After some thought, the garbage-guys (they legitimately stood outside of the truck, pondering whether or not they were going to take the two extra bags that a small kid carried to the road!) tossed them in the back of their truck, too.

Anyway, here’s the Top 7– one highlight in each of the 7 key areas of life:

👉 Fitness

👉 Finance 

👉 Family 

👉 Field 

👉 Faith 

👉 Friends

👉 Fun 



Fitness = after a week of recovery, back for a long-run

I took last week off from exercise. After an injury, I just thought, “I’ll give my body the time it needs to heal, I’ll enjoy sleeping in a bit longer, and then I’ll look forward to getting back in the groove.”

I decided that before lifting weights again, I would do a few runs— to make sure my core felt strong. (I had pulled my back out of whack previously.)

So, Saturday, I went for a medium-length, super-slow (read: just run whatever pace I feel like) to get back into the groove.


I ran streets and the old golf course. 

I saw a few cars and a few walkers and even more deer than either of those… 



Finance = Financial procedures, internal processes and more

Beth has been crushing our “office” side of things. That is, all the paperwork and filing and business licenses and processes to ship books and just about everything else. 

I know, it’s been tedious. 

I know, there are FAR MORE fun and exciting things to do.

I know, this work is unseen.

I know, though, this is setting us up for ease as things grow.



Family = Macaroons are always a flashback to London ca. 2017

Tuesday, I drove to Trussville for a meeting at Edgar’s. As I purchased my coffee I noticed rows and rows of macaroons— those multi-colored cookies that look like chubby Oreos.

I decided that, when I was done, I’d grab some and surprise Ivey (our 19yo) with a surprise visit at work— at Louis Vuitton at the Summit Sax.

Those cookies ALWAYS remind me of her and our 1:1 London excursion.


Here’s the backstory…

Fall 2015 the kids started watching Harry Potter. Yes, it had been out awhile, but this is when they zoned in on it. Probably because they had been watching the Chronicles of Narnia, as well.

Whatever the case, Ivey (then 12) and Noah (then 10) caught “London fever.”

“What can we do to earn a trip?” they began asking.

Really, it was more like a BEG.

Now, up to that point I had let them “earn” things. The most notable was each summer when we would go to the pool on vacation I would give them a “challenge for a dollar,” that is, some feat they could do whereby they earned a small amount of cash they could blow at the arcade, the local gift shop, wherever… 

(I’ve written about it before and even talked about it in this #SoulWholeness video, even using it as an object lesson about our perspective / limiting beliefs.)

So, I came up with a plan…

… and I raised the bar SO HIGH that I thought, “First of all, they’ll never reach this. But, second, if they do, it will be SO WORTH it because of what they will have achieved… and learned in the process.”

I spelled it out for them: 

  • Read each of “The Hobbit” books (i.e., the complete Lord of the Rings box set) and write a report and draw a picture for each one
  • Watch each of the corresponding films and write a report about the differences between those movies and the books (along with another picture) 
  • Read Alice in Wonderland AND Through the Looking Glass— write a report and draw a picture on each 
  • Watch the movies, discussing the difference between those films and the books (picture also, of course)
  • Read Sherlock Holmes (The Hounds of Baskerville), and write a report + draw a picture 
  • Watch the updated Sherlock Holmes movies (then 2) and write the reports + pictures

My thinking was— 

  • They had already read (and watched) The Chronicles of Narnia
  • They had already read (and watched) Harry Potter (in fact, we watched a movie a night one season during Spring Break 😂
  • This would provide them with new high-level content

After a week or two, Noah threw in the towel. It made sense. He’s brilliant, but he was a bit too young for that challenge. And, providentially, it worked out to take him to Scotland on his own later in 2018– when he was about the age Ivey was when she and I travelled. 


Ivey persisted.

Every few weeks, I noticed she was reading another book, making more notes, and drawing her pictures. 

Then she did the same with the movies— many times having to ask me to rent or purchase them for her on iTunes. 

Finally, Fall 2016 she told me, “I’m almost done. We need to go ahead and put it on the calendar.”

She knew that if it didn’t go on the calendar it wouldn’t happen. But, if it did, I would block it and nothing else would encroach. 

With that, just a few months later— specifically, the end of January 2017– Ivey and I ventured to London.

Here’s the Tower Bridge (re: not “London Bridge,” which is a bit less ornate):

And, here’s Ivey at the entrance to the School of Rock musical. Suffice to say, we spent most days sight-seeing (random was the plan, go see whatever we wanted), and most nights watching a play of some sort.

And, of course, we mastered the Underground.

Where do the macaroons fit into the story?

Well, we learned the best way to manage our time going to anything that required a ticket (i.e., a play) was to take the subway there, purchase the tickets we needed, and then just bop around the area— seeing whatever else fancied us.

Multiple times we found ourselves with 20-30 minutes to kill. So, we visited local coffee shops.

Every single one of those coffee shops had those macaroons. 

After a while, in fact, we began referring to them as “London Oreos.”

Now, each time— without fail— I see them, it reminds me of that trip.



Field = “Old resources” found, repackaged, repurposed… 

Last week Beth and I cleaned off some shelves downstairs, finding— as I wrote in the previous Top 7 post— multiple copies of some of my previously published books. 

I’ll post more about some of the other resources we found, but this was one of my favorites— the Finding Keto book and audiobook. 

I’d always heard that “what you ate” was more important (in terms of how you look) than the exercise you do (i.e., it’s impossible to out-run a bad diet), but never really realized it (experientially) until Spring 2018 when I finished this book AND actually applied it.

I was going through an incredibly tough season personally— with a bunch of factors completely outside my control. I didn’t feel like working-out (it actually made my anxious, as if my body couldn’t carry the load during that season), so I stepped back from the routine that had helped me lose 40+ pounds and kept me fit for the previous 4 years. 

I just did Keto, writing about it as I did…

The result was this book + audiobook that helps people: 

  • Understand how to transform you body from a “sugar-burner” into a fat-burner (so that you burn fat instead of turning your calories into more “chunk”)
  • How to do it without going hungry, without growing tired, and without getting irritable 
  • Why this method of nutrition works for losing weight AND has at least 6 more benefits beyond weight loss (and, consequently, was a prescribed treatment by the medical community for DECADES— until they realized they couldn’t make money off your health, only your sickness)

Beth placed the copies in our online store— you can learn more here:   

And, if you want to lose a few pounds, I’ll be talking about Keto in our online group a few times a week. Join free at  



Faith = Reentry & restoration 

My friend Trent reached out Tuesday…

… and then I met him + his board of directors on Thursday for breakfast. 

I met Trent about 9 years ago when I was working in prison re-entry, drug / substance abuse addiction, etc. Trent came to me as a client initially, leaving a prison sentence. In time, as he completed the program, he began working with us— running the day-to-day operations of the center. 

Now, he runs a re-entry program— at the same place I used to lead.

His team wanted to look at some of the materials we used for about 7 years— when I was leading. During that season, we’d gone to great pains (the joyful kind!) to create a pathway to move clients forward— from where they were in that moment to where we knew God had designed them to be.

Why does this one fit with the faith category? 

Well, in some sense you see the Lord working— transformed lives. 

And, you see that everything you’ve done in the past is never wasted. Even past chapters. Even things you’ve forgotten about.

I’m meeting with them again, this week, to hand off some resources and see what they can do with them, perhaps giving the old stuff another life in a new chapter and season. 



Friends = bumped it

Beth and I scheduled time to meet two of our friends for dinner this week, but with Spring Break coming and other things on the docket, our calendar created a “short week” for us. 

The friends had a short week, too. 

So, we punted…

No “friend” entries this week 😂

Side note: some of the best friends are the ones that can simultaneously be there immediately as well as take a "bump" when it needs to happen. I know, that sounds totally contradictory, but it makes all the sense in the world when you experience it.



Fun = built a small fire at the house + burned Bob Ross

Home reno is fun for me.  I enjoy stepping away from using “my brain” and the computer and pushing into physical work. 

Especially when you can see the results of your labor.

Over the past 2.5 years at the #Hilltop, I’ve cut down (at least) 80 trees. The result is three piles in the backyard— a small, medium, and a large. 

Two of the piles are out of the way— and don’t really matter. One, though, occupies— or, occupied— center position between the backyard fire pit and the trampoline. 

It was time for the pile in the way to go.

I set aside HOURS on Saturday to watch it burn.

Don’t let the picture fool you. That pile is about 6 feet tall, about 15 feet wide.

Thankfully, the wood had been sitting for OVER A YEAR, so it was dry— and ready to go, burning about 80% faster than I thought it would.

Notice the Bob Ross picture… 

That one finally had to go, too…

Yes, at the end of the log-burn, I tossed a few bits of trash and dump-run stuff into the mix, effectively saving myself a trip.

The Bob Ross thing is interesting. 

When I moved into the house, I tried to create GREAT SPACE for the kids— space where they would feel “home.” 

I realized that after going through a divorce, they were as uprooted as I was. And, in the same way I was rebuilding my life, so also were they rebuilding theirs. 

(That was part of the reason for the #TinyHouse add-on, too— creating “next level” space for the girls, as well as outdoor living space for everyone.)

Back to Bob Ross…

I hung 4 or 5 posters on the walls downstairs (the boys’ area is downstairs— complete with a small den, three bedrooms, and a boys’ bathroom— trust me, gals don’t want any part of it). Eventually, we moved furniture around to make it more functional (i.e., a gaming area instead of a TV, etc.). 

The cheap poster-frames eventually began sagging. 

Then posters got knocked and fell, so enough that I took the frames down (the updates look ever better now than it did back then).

But I still clung to the posters. 

Part of me thought I would eventually fix the frames and rehang them.

Or that I might get new frames and give it a go.

But then I realized… 

Somehow, I was hanging on to THOSE POSTERS because of they marked— as odd as it seems— that changing season, that flip of the page into a new (radically amazing) chapter. 

The solution? 

Realize the posters are just artifacts of the new era…

… and that the more important part is the people who mark that new season. 

In other words, let the posters go.

There was nothing substantially significant about burning them. I could have tossed them in the trash. But, that would have taken space, required a bit of maneuvering to demolish the frames in order to fit them into the approved garbage containers, etc… 


Where we are now

Here’s a street glimpse of the #Hilltop, the space we’ve been rebuilding life for the past few years…

When Beth and I got married back in 2020, we created shirts— as party-favors— for everyone who came. 

The hitch was this: “Come up to the photo booth and take a pic, so we can remember you and this night. Then, while you’re up here, grab the shirt.”

The result was some AWESOME pics.

And, even now, random texts we receive from people who came that night, to gather with us and mark the new season.

Here’s the front of the shirt—

And, yes, that’s our house— complete with the outdoor Edison-like restaurant lights scattered through the backyard. 

The statement on the front is a nod to Romans 8:28– that God promises to work everything in every season towards every bit of good for you and for me.


That’s all

That’s the Top 7 for the week. As always, I use the weekly review in my Advance Planner to look back at the highlights I journaled each day as I plan my way forward.

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