Christian Living

The upside of fear

Stupid spreadsheet.

Typically, I’m a pretty positive– upbeat — and self-confident person. I’m told I’m overly optimistic by my friends. But the past few weeks have brought about unfamiliar emotions. Negativity, melancholy, and anxiety. 

And since these are unfamiliar emotions I haven’t quite known how to respond. In situations where I’m typically chipper I’ve been quiet. In moments I typically shrug off bad news and instantly turn it into a positive I’ve been silent. I’ve been asked for ideas on things and just not had solutions where I normally have been so dependable.

It’s not that I don’t have stuff to say its that I think its time to be quiet and listen– I don’t want the wrong words to come out because of my emotional state so I just bit my tongue.

It all goes back to the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet brought out fear I’d never had before. And, like all fear, it’s illogical and stupid.

The Spreadsheet

As a small business owner my income and expenses are all captured on a master spreadsheet. This gives me a month-by-month look at my business, where my money is coming from and where it is going. (Very similar to a personal budget.) Heading into the summer my balance sheet was very strong for the rest of 2012… this summer we had some record breaking months and some projects coming this fall which could double, even triple what we made in the same months of 2011.

Then over the last few weeks I’ve had to revise some of some numbers down. At the same time I had to make these revisions we ran into a normal business cycle where I pay a lot of money out while I’m waiting for a lot of income to come in. (I call this cash poor, invoice rich.) When larger businesses hit these business cycles they take out short-term loans. But we’re small enough where we just float through these times with our savings.

But it was those normal revisions and that normal business cycle which brought out all of that funky emotional junk.

Factually speaking, the numbers aren’t even that bad. We will still make more than we need. We are totally fine. But the act of making those changes and seeing all that cash go out planted a seed of doubt in me which grew into fear. “What if the cash doesn’t come back?” “What if it gets worse?” “Why don’t I have ____ in savings for when this happens?” “Why don’t I have a line of credit at the bank in case to cover this better?” On and on and on.

This is what I know about fear: Fear will make you dumb. Fear whispers lies in your ears. Fear makes you say no to things you should say yes to and visa versa.

And all of that was true of me in August. Our last camping trip came at a perfect time. Just when I was thinking, “What am I going to do?” We went and looked at the stars and took hikes and laughed and giggled until bed time.

Those 4 days gave me the perspective I so desperately needed: We are totally fine. 

Sitting by the fire helped calm my nerves. It helped lower my anxiety. It reminded me that everything would be OK.

The Upside of Fear

Sitting in church the other day I think it all started to wash over me. Not all fear is bad. I’m afraid of what a spreadsheet says might happen in 3-4 months? Really? How could I be so stupid? Talk about a lack of perspective in light of all that I know about Our God! Talk about allowing emotions to rule over facts! Talk about putting your faith and trust in something really, really small!

Here’s my observation: The only good kind of fear is the kind which leads you to taking positive action. 

Photo credit: James Stark via Flickr (Creative Commons)
McLane Creative

Concierge Service from McLane Creative

I have a little side business called McLane Creative. After we sold YMX in 2008, I needed a category for some of the other stuff I was doing. (Small design projects, consulting, writing stuff, etc.) I figured that if I named it after myself I could never sell it!

For years I’ve had 3-4 people per month approach me about helping them with their blog. Generally, these are friends of mine in ministry who want to have a web presence but don’t really know how to get started. Generally, these are people with a or Blogger blog who want to move to a WordPress self-hosted blog with a custom look/feel.

But the reality is that most youth workers don’t have the $1500 minimum I need to make it worth my while. Which meant that every month for the last several years I’ve had to tell a friend who needs help with their blog that I just couldn’t do it for what they could afford.

Finally, about a month ago, I had an epiphany. If I could just separate the roles, I could put together a standard package to help my friends in ministry out at a price they can afford and also help out some of my freelancing friends. That’s how we got to the Concierge Service.

What is it?

It’s a flat fee service that migrates your blog from or Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog on your own hosting package so you have full control and can grow your blog/brand/small business. We’ll do all the work, we’ll customize a WordPress theme of your choosing, and we’ll spend an hour with you teaching you how to use everything, answering your questions, and training you how to maintain the site for yourself.

How much does it cost and how do I get started?

I’m still nailing down the details, but I anticipate starting this in June 2011 and the cost will be between $475-$625.

Want to learn more?

I’ve written a more detailed explanation here. And if you are interested in this service let me know.

And, of course, if you just think I’m nuts, leave a comment.

Web/Tech Weblogs

Reminder: Back-up your blog

This morning I woke up and my blog was down. With more than 6 years of content here that is scary.

It was a healthy reminder to me that it was time to back-up my blog. (After fixing some corrupt tables)

This is your reminder: If you haven’t backed-up your self-hosted WordPress blog lately, you need to do it.

Don’t know how?

No problem! I wrote a tutorial for you over on the McLane Creative blog.