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This is the personal journal of Dustin Bryson and is an experiment in being human, living for Jesus and loving others. I love my sweet Leah, and two kids. I'm addicted to great coffee, burgers and Jeep Grand Wagoneers.

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What would you do if a perfect stranger walked in to your place of employment, blew your mind with a magic trick, and then asked you to quit and come work for them for free?

This is basically what happened to Simon Peter and Andrew in the book of Luke in the bible.

It was a normal night of fish guts, boat leaks and brotherly arguments.  It was a flop of a shift with no “big catch” to speak of.  I’m sure they were bummed out as the day got long and their efforts were fruitless.  I can hear the brothers bicker in my head;

“Dude, did you fix the holes in the nets?”

“You said you were doing it!”

“Uh .. no I didn’t”

They both probably wanted to quit but they had no other skills and quitting simply wasn’t an option.  They would be fishermen for life.

Cue Jesus the stranger.

Jesus tells them to cast their nets out again and they pushed back, “We’ve been doing that all night, and we haven’t caught a thing”.

We do this right?  Argue with God I mean.  His still, small voice beckons us to engage in some way and we tell Him we can’t because we’ve already tried it that way, we’re too busy, we don’t have the skills.

In the end Peter does what he is told because, after all, the Rabi commanded it.  And the result of his obedience?  More than he could dream of!

What would it look like if you trusted God in every area of your life?  What would it look like if I did?  I’m constantly worried about one thing or another.  Our family finances, the health of my kids, my place in ministry.

But when I think about it my only real responsibility is to obey the miracle worker.  He tells me to cast my net again and because of His enduring faithfulness my only reply should be, “Yes, Rabbi.”

Today I turned 40 and I can no longer deny that I am “middle aged”.

I no longer want to deny it because even my own life isn’t about me.

I’ve recently come to realize that my life is about what I leave long after I am gone. It’s about teaching my children well. It’s about serving my community. It’s about sharing the love that Jesus first showed me.

Many stories come to mind as I sit and think about the first half of my life. I’ve lived and had adventures all over the United States. I’ve traveled to Europe, Africa and Central America. I’ve graduated, worked blue and white collar jobs, lived in the city and the country. I’ve driven clunkers and sports cars, spread out in 3,000 square feet and crunched into 100 of those same square feet. I have cried and I have laughed. I got married to a smoking hot chick and we produced two of the most amazing kids I’ve ever met.

For the first 18 years of my life I went hard and I was unstoppable. I bombed major hills on my plastic Coyote III skateboard. I jacked penny candy from the local convenience store. I jumped canyons on my Dyno Detour. And I broke bones, a lot of bones. So many that at age 16 my mom told me she wouldn’t pay for another x-ray.

I spent that first 18 years of my life in a selfish haze because I truly thought it was all about me. When I realized their was more and that this story called life wasn’t written about me (or by me) I gave my heart to the Creator of the story.

It’s been a long time since I’ve jumped a bike but it’s only been a week since my son stood on the pedals of his first training wheel free bike and exclaimed “LOOK DAD, MY FIRST TRICK!”.

Life has come full circle and it’s now all about them. I see them learning and I can distinctly remember learning the same things. They are in awe and everything really is awesome.

I love that about my kids and I hope they never lose that wonder.

So now it’s time to be a Dad. To be the dad I did not have. To provide adventures and direction. To kiss boo boos and wrestle dragons. To hold them when they cry and dance like a lunatic when they win.

I had a pretty amazing first half, and as I sit here at half time I am getting more and more pumped about the second half!

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Confession time – I have a bad case of The Grabsies.

The Grabsies is that thing you do when there is a lull in conversation or the kissing part of a movie your watching comes on.  You reach out for it and it comforts you.

Your phone/laptop/iPad I mean.

You do it at the dinner table, on a date with your wife, even while driving.  Shoot you even do it before bed so it’s no wonder your wife isn’t interested in a snuggle sesh.

I know about YOU because I know about ME and technology and the incessant need to get Likes, Hearts and ReTweets can be all consuming.

I mean, if only that one person who I’ve only met one time at that conference would double tap that Instagram photo … IT WOULD COMPLETE ME!

No it won’t, only Jesus can do that and thats the very reason I am giving up THE GRAB for Lent.  Below is my declaration and if we are hanging out and I pick up my phone instead of listening intently to you and being your friend you have permission to slap that thing out of my hand.  If I do it a second time, after you gracefully smacked the tar out of me, then you have permission to keep the phone out of my eye and earshot for the rest of the day.

I hereby commit to my family and friends to be present.  I WILL NOT be on any type of screen during meals, family time or any other moment where we should be connecting and creating memories.  I won’t act like my iPhone is more important than the human I am hanging with and I will not obsessively check my stats on any social network.

I can’t make any promises after Lent, but I pray that my focus will be forever shifted from my self absorbed nature to that of a friend and encourager.

Signed
DUSTIN MICHAEL BRYSON

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Between leaving the lights on, growing out of shoes at an alarming rate and the sheer volume of food they consumer there is one thing that is certain, kids cost a LOT of money!

My son currently plays soccer and is part of an after school science program.  Two extra curricular activities is a drop in the bucket for some of my friends.  Their kids are in private schools, dance classes, swimming lessons and much more!  Once they get out of diapers you’re like “sweet!” but trust me, they are just getting started.  Doctors visits, new video game systems and again, the metric ton of food they eat every month can put anyone in the poor house.

Have no fear, their are alternatives and I have outlined a few below.

  1. Don’t buy new – There are a million places you can pick up gently used clothing, video games and bikes.  Check Craigslist, second hand kids stores or eBay before picking up that next item.  This past Christmas my wife put out an A.P.B. for anyone selling a used Nintendo D.S. and one of her rad friends gave us 2 D.S.’ and a half dozen games for FREE!
  2. Trade with your friends – Swallow your pride and jump on social media and spread the word about your needs.  Friends and family are here for a reason, if we can help we will.  If you have kids that are a year older then your friends see if they have need of the clothing your kids have grown out of.  Our pals the Branches have outfitted my kids for more days than I can count.
  3. Do some leg work – Ask around before having medical procedures done.  You no doubt have a friend or two in your network willing to offer some free advice.  If you don’t, check out Yelp, Healthgrades or RateMDs to see what folks are saying.  They may complain about additional procedures that aren’t necessary.

Your kids will cost you but if you are smart with your pennies you can make them stretch a lot further.  Oh, and don’t leave it up to your wife, you two are a team, so get in the game bro!

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My heart has always been captured by story.  I think all of ours have been actually, it’s in our DNA, it’s how we were created.  So it only makes sense that telling our stories and hearing those of our loved ones would make us come alive.

About a year ago I started a little non profit called Lightwriters.  The concept of what we do has changed slightly over time but the constant has been story telling through photography.  This simple vision has intertwined my life with a ton of folks I never would have met without it.  They have enriched my life with their stories and friendship and I have watched in awe as their stories have unfolded.  Bravery through cancer, you may kiss the brides, blissful adventure and so much more.  Many of my favorite moments are watched from afar through the small looking glass of my iPhone, but I am there none the less.

Friday night was a pivotal night in the life of Lightwriters.  We began the process of reaching out to a new community in the hopes that they will hear the vision and dive in.  We had the wonderfully good fortune of hanging Project #1; Capturing Summer at Dominican Joe’s in downtown Austin.  Capturing Summer is a gallery show of images photographed by the children of High Sky Children’s Ranch in Midland, Texas.  I was excited and thankful for our friends that turned out and I was pumped about the coffee seekers who stopped by to say hi as well.  Now I wait.  I wait to see what God will do in the hearts of those who see the work on the walls and read the stories of the beautiful souls who captured those moments.  I wait and pray that someone will volunteer, pray for us, sign up for our newsletter, or get inspired.

If you are a photographer, a prayer warrior or a generous rebel with deep pockets I implore you to spend a few minutes on our site and consider how you could partner with us.

If you are in Austin anytime over the next four months you should really drop by Dominican Joe’s, grab the best honey latte you will EVER enjoy and check out the art.

I am eternally thankful for your friendship and support.

Dustin
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Leah and I have seen a lot of change.  In our 13 years together we have lived in 4 states, owned 2 homes, had 2 kids and have bought and sold 10 vehicles.

We’ve experienced sickness and pain and watched loved ones pass away.  We’ve watched friends get baptized and youth we mentored go into ministry and go on to pastor churches.

We’ve been broke and we’ve had money.  We’ve lived in a townhouse, a dream house and even with my in-laws (for 3 years).

I’ve started a handful of companies.  Some failed, some failed (some also succeeded).

We’ve seen a lot of changes and more are on the horizon.  Big changes, too big for me to handle on my own.  So I am asking my friends to pray for us.  Please pray that God would direct our path.  That He would open the doors he wants us to walk through and close the ones he doesn’t.

Thank you for loving us and being such amazing friends.

More info coming soon.

 

I had the great fortune to attend a week long class at the Kellogg School of Business in Chicagoland. The images above are a snippet from that adventure.