Fuel for the Frontier: Volume I

Think of this as your knapsack of snacks for a long journey. The purpose of this series is to provide resources to fuel your soul for the road ahead. You may find some helpful or useful, and others, not as much. Fuel for the Frontier will be a regular column in each issue. Things I’m experimenting with, books I’m reading, music or podcasts that have been noteworthy. Take your pick, I’ll lay out the spread.

Getting Lost in a Story

My wife and I were introduced to the author Michael O’Brien by our good friends, and oh my, it’s been fun to dig in to his books. The last half year I’ve spent most of my evenings getting lost in the world of fiction. It’s been a therapeutic escape with busy life happening. As John Eldredge says so well in his book Waking the Dead, “Mythic stories help us see clearly, which is to say, they help us see with the eyes of the heart.”

My two favorites from Michael O’Brien, The Fool of New York City and Island of the World. The stories speak of hope, loss, forgiveness, suffering, and redemption. Brilliantly woven with suspense and mystery. I feel like I came to know the main characters and found their stories revealing parts of mine.


  • Waking the Dead: This must be one of the most refreshing books on Christian life I’ve read in a long time. John’s writing has been quite influential in my life over the last 5 years, but this definitely floats toward the top. It’s a venture into awakening your heart to all that Jesus promised through his life and ministry. Living with a heart that is alive, restored, and free.

    ...if it doesn't bring freedom and it doesn't bring life, it's not Christianity. If it doesn't restore the image of God and rejoice in the heart, it's not Christianity.

  • And Sons Podcast: I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts regularly, but this is one that I rarely miss an episode. In the age of content overload, there are few things that are resonate with my heart and move me to action. This would be one. Notable episodes: 6, 18, 39, 46 and 47.

Other Noteworthy Reading

  • Unsubscribe by Jocelyn K. Glei: Not at all surprised, this was an incredibly thought provoking read. Jocelyn continues to impress me with her unfaltering commitment to producing quality content sure to get you thinking. An excerpt from the review I wrote of Unsubscribe.

    This is much more than a book on email. Though email is a large portion of the context for the principles Jocelyn lays out, her clarity regarding our impulse checks, communication blunders, and focus deficit, is revealing. You won’t find a book of tips-and-tricks related to email management. Though you will learn an abundance of best practices when it comes to managing your inbox. This book will challenge your disposition toward digital communication, edit your writing tendencies, and retarget your focus on that which is truly important. If you want to gain clarity about doing work that matters, Unsubscribe is a breath of fresh air.

  • The Weekly Review: This is pretty much the only newsletter I have been subscribed to for over a year and continue to be delighted with every dispatch. As in, eagerly look forward to reading. Chris writes about spiritual life, deep work habits, and occasionally, The Patriots. He’s a deep thinker and the brevity of the life he is choosing to live comes through in his writing.

Tunes for Work & Play

  • Focus / Work: After too many mornings trying to decide what I should listen to as I get into my work routine, I made a playlist called “Start Here”. A progression of instrumental music from Utah, Tycho, and Hanz Zimmer(of course). At just over 3 hours, so it gets me through my most productive work hours of the day. This helps me automate my morning routine by not having to think about where to start. I hit play, open my baron fig notebook, and pickup with the bread crumbs I left for myself the day before.

  • Dinner Clean Up / Dance Party: Unapologetically stole the origins of this playlist for my father. Playlist called “Happy” and you can hear it being blasted at the Smith house every night as we clean up dinner and have a dance party in the kitchen.

  • Saturday Afternoon: The Wild Swan by Foy Vance has been a recent delightful discovery.

  • Worship Music: This album by Greg LaFollette has been on repeat lately when I have some quiet moments of reflection and conversation with God. A hymnal-y feel throughout, and it’s pretty much the Bible put to music. It’s been speaking the language of my heart as of late.

Things I’m Practicing

  • Early morning Solitude: Inspired by Jocko Willink from his book, Discipline Equals Freedom, I’ve been trying to make 4:30am my normal wakeup time. 😴 It hurts. Every time. BUT, I’ve found that getting 2–3 hours of quiet and solitude (devotions/exercise/staring at the wall) before the day gets going makes a huge difference for me. If you follow Jocko on twitter he posts a picture of his watch just about every day at 4:33am.

  • No cell phone in bedroom: This should be a no-brainer, but it took longer than I care to admit before my wife and I implemented this rule. The general thought, I should be completely untethered, unavailable, and fully present whenever I walk into my bedroom. There’s like 50 or more reasons for that. So we plug our phones in to charge in the kitchen, and I bought an alarm clock.

  • The Daily Prayer: To walk the Christian life is to go to war. Every day. In John Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead, he talks about the battle for the human heart. Every day is a fight. To live from my heart, to be the husband and father that my family needs, walking with God is essential. The Daily Prayer has been a place of refuge to turn to every morning as I face the day again. I printed a couple out to keep handy.