The YouTube ad that made me cry

Last week, we were watching a video when the greatest YouTube ad I had ever seen appeared. We couldn’t stop watching it. The skip ad button turned on and I ignored it. The ad went on for seconds then minutes. Until it ended nineteen minutes later. (I know, it might feel weird reading about a YouTube ad, but it’s just as weird or weirder writing about one.)

What was the ad? It was a Charity Water video.

Charity Water is a nonprofit started by a guy named Scott Harris. And in the ad he told his story from his challenging childhood in the suburbs to becoming a nightclub promoter in New York City. He got paid to throw huge parties and be around beautiful people and drink. It was fun until wasn’t. Eventually he discovered he wanted something more. That led him to abandoning that thrilling life and paying a nonprofit so that he can go with them to third world countries to take pictures for them as they did humanitarian work. When he was there, he discovered people drinking the most heinous water. It was dirty, muddy, diseased, bug infested water. And they (mostly the women in those villages) would walk miles to bring it home even though it was unclean enough to kill and carrying it was backbreaking work. That’s when Scott found his calling and started Charity Water which has a mission to bring clean water to the 780 million people who don’t have access to clean water.

Huddled around our computer screen with us was our first born. He loves YouTube videos. We’re Dude Perfect subscribers. These days we’ve been watching ones with deep sea fishing on BlacktipH. But this YouTube ad did something different to our boy. He saw people’s pain and had compassion. He saw for the first time that too many children didn’t have something he took for granted ever day—clean water to drink. And that was not the only story in the video that moved him.

There was a 9 year old girl, Rachel, who gave up her birthday in hopes to raise $300 for the nonprofit. She didn’t reach her goal: she raised $220. But weeks later she died in a car accident. It was tragic. But from the ashes of tragedy arose a phoenix of hope. As news traveled about Rachel’s death, people and media noted how while she was alive she offered up her birthday to give clean water to others—and many were inspired. They gave hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, eventually more than a million dollars for the cause she sacrificed for just before she died.

I was crying. And my son says, “I want to give up my birthday. I want to give money.” And he ran off to get his piggy bank and wanted to give right then.

“Buddy we can’t jam dollars through the screen,” I said gently to him.

“Why not? I want to give right now,” he said adamantly.

It was beautiful.

In times like these, when brokenness and sadness reigns, there are still stories that can shift our paradigm and remind us how rich we are. We have clean water. I still have my child. We are alive.

We are richer than we know.

If you have a chance check out Charity Water.

It’ll make you want to jam your money through the screen.

Most of all it will help you see the world afresh.


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This Is What Love Looks Like

I have an uncle that I admire. His name is Rick.

You probably don’t know him. But, if you did, you would sense that he’s different.

He’s one of the most loving guys I know. And we can all learn from him.

When he wants to talk to my wife or me, he will call and call until he gets a hold of us. If he can’t reach me, he’ll call my wife. If she doesn’t pick up, he will call me, then her, then me, then her again. And if he still can’t reach us, he will wait a few hours then call us again, even if we don’t call back.

When he finally reaches us, he will ask to see us. There’s no shame or guilt in his tone; he’s not upset that we didn’t pick up or call him back. He seems genuinely happy to talk to us. And while my wife and I are deliberating on when to see him, I will look at my wife and she will look at me, while Uncle Rick is still on the phone–waiting. He’s not pestering us. He’s not shrinking or embarrassed that we are taking our time. He quietly waits.

And then when we eventually say, “Yes, it would be great to see you!” he’s delighted. Even though he had to wait minutes for us to figure out the timing, he didn’t interpret it as us not wanting to see him. He gives us the benefit of the doubt.

When he shows up, he blesses us. He loves on us with his words, big smiles, and kind gestures. He brings gifts for our kids; he wishes us well.

And that whole series of events from calling to showing up hasn’t just happened once, it’s happened multiple times, in one form or another, since my wife and I married.

See, Rick’s a pitbull of love. He doesn’t take no for an answer. He’s not deterred by our indecision, upset by our uncertainty, troubled when we don’t call back. He just keeps coming.

He doesn’t think, “Oh, these people have disrespected me by not calling me back or not picking up or making me wait.” No. He just keeps on loving.

And I love him for it. I can’t help but respect him for it. I admire him and try to imitate him. He inspires me. I’m far from being like him, but I’m trying.

I hope he inspires you, too.

In a world that is broken relationally, we need that type of behavior. We need people who fight for each other, take the initiative, reach out, and give generously. We need more generosity. We need more Uncle Ricks.

What would this world look like if people were more resolute, resilient, resolved, tenacious, unwavering for others? What would we as a people be like if we loved each other through the awkwardness, the pauses, the silence? 

We should all be more like Uncle Rick.

Let’s try today.


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This Is How I See You

You are glorious.

You are lovely; you are loved. You are a child, a daughter, a son, family, a friend.

You are valuable regardless of your story, your brokenness, your failures.

You are beautiful. You are radiant. I see it in you; you can too.

Love yourself. See yourself.

Look into your face. Don’t note the “flaws.”

Instead gaze through my eyes as I turn to you and behold the face of God.

Lots of love,

John


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Support this blog by shopping on Amazon.

Use this Amazon affiliate link to buy this book I recommend or anything you normally would (dog-food, diapers, deodorant—you know) in 24 hours, and that will create a magic for me. Thank you!!

One Great Thing From Social Distancing

Strangers are waving at me, and I find myself waving back. They smile, and so do I. And you know what? It feels really good.

In all of this we’re learning to appreciate strangers.

There’s a longing for connection that we all have, especially when we’re as starved of it as we are these days.

Yes, Zoom is good but not enough. We were meant to grab beers and clink mugs together, shake hands, hug—be with each other. Zooming is great but it’s a bastardization of what we really want, need.

Maybe your living with family, which makes it a lot easier. But there’s still that desire to connect with other people who don’t have your surname.

Strangers are now those people. And it’s nice, you know.

It’s strange yet natural. It’s awkward, but refreshing. It makes us all feel better, somehow.

Yes, the Midwest, where I live, is a place where social norms do cultivate a higher amount of niceness from its people. But these days they’re even nicer than normal. The waves are bigger and smiles wider. It’s like we all got the message of “We are all that we’ve got left now, so let’s make the best of it.”

And I like it. You probably do, too.

You might be noticing the change, friendly greetings from those who aren’t friends. It likely makes you feel connected, loved even.

This pandemic is tragic, horrid, awful. But there is good that blossoms from shit.

And learning to love the people around us no matter who they are, is a flower I hope continues to bloom in our daily lives and never gets uprooted no matter what season of life we’re in.Social distancing has brought us closer to strangers. And it’s great. 

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True strength

True strength isn’t about how much weight you can throw around in the gym; rather, it’s about your ability to carry the burdens of others.

It’s certainly not about how many people you can hurt, but it’s about those you can heal.

The strongest of us shouldn’t spend our energy trying to control anyone else but ourselves, mastering our own desires and impulses.

If you are strong, you serve. If you are powerful, you expend it on those who have less power.

Your strength should make others stronger.

I want to see you happy

Your face aglow with a radiance blazing from within, rich with joy and satisfaction, is what I wish to see.

May you be filled with a flourishing—not from your possessions, fulfilled with more than just things, wealth, or fame—that comes from a secret knowledge, a mysterious knowing—Love.

Being loved faithfully, unwaveringly, deeply is richness that reaches beyond words, a power more powerful than any other power, a truth truer than truth.

With that, you cannot help but be happy.

Love yourself when you make a mistake

When we make a mistake, we might be harsh with others. But the person we are often harshest with isn’t anyone around us. It’s ourselves.

Sure, you made a mistake. Yes, it was terrible.

But why make it worse? Why punish yourself more? The mistake is bad enough.

Let it go. Punishing yourself won’t change the past, but you can change how you treat yourself right now.

Remind yourself that this isn’t the end but only a part of the process of growing. Speak tenderly to yourself.

You aren’t your mistake. You made a mistake.

You aren’t a mistake. You’re mistaken.

Correct it now.

Love yourself.

One of the most important people we forget to be kind to

Be kind to yourself today. 

You might have screwed up, but you’re not a screwup. 

You might have made a mistake, but you aren’t a mistake. 

You are worthy. You are lovable. You are beautiful. 

Punishing yourself will not right the wrong. That would only add to it. 

Forgive yourself. Let it go. Move forward. 

Love yourself.


The pic below made my day when I saw it. So I thought it might brighten up yours and help you get on the path of self-compassion.


If you want to read a book to help you with this, I recommend Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (affiliate link).

It’s a fantastic read, what helped me see my need for self-compassion.