A New Hope

The idea of New Year’s resolutions have always stymied me.  On the one hand, I understand the desire to have a fresh start, but the truth is we make these resolutions to make ourselves feel better.  We make these resolutions because deep down we all want a clean start and a new hope.  A hope that this year will be better, that WE will be better, and a hope that our world and communities will be better.

The problem is, as many of us know all to well, rarely do we keep these resolutions.  It’s not for lack of trying or lack of want, rather I believe it’s because we sabotage ourselves from the very beginning.  We do this by dwelling on all of our failures from the year before.  As a new year begins we inevitable look back.  We see our successes, our failures, our joys and losses, and all the mundane moments in between; yet somehow it is our failures and our losses that seem to be pushed to the forefront of our minds.

We go into making new resolutions remembering all the same resolutions we have already failed at accomplishing.

Last year I resolved to read 50 books, loose 40 pounds, be a more grateful person, run a half marathon, spend more quality time with my wife and daughter, pray more, and serve more. Some of those things were accomplished, others were not. Now I am faced with a new year filled with new opportunities and I find myself dwelling on the failures instead of the victories. Why?

The short answer is because I, like most people, will find excuses as to why my resolutions will fail. I will have a conversation with myself saying that, “I will do this” or, “I will accomplish that”, yet all the while, in the back of my head, I’ll be making a list of all the reasons it will be too difficult to tackle.

Think about it. How much time do we spend on making excuses for our poor behavior and/or lifestyles? We blame our parents, the stress of life, our families, our lack of money, the people around us, our schedules, and the list can go on and on. Let’s face it, It’s easier to blame external circumstances than to take ownership for our own shortcomings.

Luke 9:23 has always been a challenging truth for me. “If anyone wants to be my follower, deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me.”

It’s challenging because it is all about surrender. It’s about dropping the baggage, the selfishness, and surrendering everything…DAILY. That word daily, often alludes us. I think we look at surrender as a one time thing instead of the ongoing daily habit that it actually should be.

As this new year begins, this is what I know to be true. I know that I have struggles, hopes, dreams, and fears. I know that I live in a damaged world, where no one is perfect and everyone is deserving of grace. I know that all have fallen short of God’s best for us and that He will never leave or forsake those that surrender to Him. I know there are people who love me and those that despise me.

I know that I have no idea what this coming year has in store but it is filled with new opportunities every day.

Which leads me to make a resolution regarding my resolutions. This year, instead of a one time proclamation of goals and aspirations I resolve to embrace the daily surrender. Surrender to the one who can actually accomplish these resolutions through me. Because, if I’m honest, It is only by His grace that I am able to accomplish anything anyway.

No excuses.
Until next time…

It’s happening – a request for encouragement and partnership

It’s finally happening. On August 30th, 2014 I will be running a half marathon in Indianapolis IN. So many of you out there have continued to encourage and challenge me towards this goal and I thank you for that.

Now I come to you with two requests.
1. Encouragement – Although I am confident that I will complete the half marathon under what is expected, it is still going to be a challenge. I am currently working on my half marathon play list and I want you on it!  If you have the time, I’m looking for 15-30 second audio clips of you cheering me on. It can be funny, ridiculous, heartfelt, or just plain sappy. If you can, email Leanne the audio clips by August 22nd. Leannelytle@gmail.com

2. $13.10 for Tom and the Walker Family and/or Clifford Gupton
Tom was recently diagnosed with lukemia and a bone morrow disorder. He just began his second round of chemo. We are confident that the lukemia will go into remission but once it does Tom will more than likely need to have a bone morrow transplant.

Clifford is a 24 year old who was recently diagnosed with a form of cancer called germ cell carcinoma. He is also in the midst of chemo treatments with many more to come. He will more than likely need several surgeries as well.

Obviously, for both of these men, there are a ton of medical expenses which is why I am asking you to donate. $13.10 is not a lot of money and I believe anyone, even kids, have the opportunity to help these two guys out. With that said, please do not feel tied to $13.10. You can give as much as you would like.

To donate to Tom, click here.

To donate to Clifford, click here.

To learn more about the half marathon I am running, click here.

Thank you again for your continued encouragement and support as I get ready to cross off a goal 3 years in the making.

Until next time….

Family Ties to How I Met Your Mother – A look at my inability to say good-bye

For as long as I can remember, I have  struggled with the inability to say goodbye.  More than likely it’s my unwillingness to feel the sadness and pain that is associated with loss, but I guess it could also be the fact that saying good-bye requires something from me.  It requires me to accept things I can’t change.

Although this can be seen throughout areas of my life, nowhere is this more evident than my refusal to watch series finales of my favorite TV shows (you didn’t think my first post in 10 months was going to be super deep did you?).  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few shows like Friends, Lost, and MacGyver I weepily said good-bye to but I had to make sure that I watched them alone and I avoided people for the next several days.

In my mind the characters that filled these shows are still out there living interesting lives.  Often times, (I’m not psychotic, I swear) I will sit back and develop a story of what certain people are doing.  I know it’s kind of sad, but surely I’m not the only one that struggles with this.  I figured that the best way for me to deal with this character deficiency is to be completely transparent about all of the finales I have refused to watch over the years. Don’t judge me.

1. Family Ties

2. Who’s the Boss

3. Growing Pains

4. The Cosby Show

5. A Different World

6. Quantum Leap

7. The A Team

8. Full House

9. Perfect Strangers

10. Saved By the  Bell

11. Roseanne

12. Buffy the  Vampire Slayer

13. Dawson’s Creek

14. Home Improvement

15. Everybody Loves Raymond

16. That’s So Raven

17. House

18. The  Office

19.  Friday Night Lights

20. Battlestar Galactica

21. 30 Rock

22. Good Luck Charlie

23. How I Met Your Mother

Yeah, I have a problem.

Why I left Ministry

I get asked, rather often, why I left ministry.  My response is always the same, I didn’t.

That being said, I did step back from located ministry for a while. First, let me say up front, that I firmly believe that being in located ministry is a call on my life.  And, although I am not currently leading in a local church, God continues to give me opportunities to serve those around me and help the local church whenever  I can.

A while back I shared with many of you my struggles with arrogance (read post here) and my initial decision to step back from leadership in ministry. That moment in my life has served as a catalyst in many ways.

In willingly stepping back I was forced to take stock of where I was, where I was headed, and where I wanted to be.  This was and is an eye opening experience as I discovered quite a few things that I felt needed to be dealt with.

They are, in no particular order – debt, healthier living, and balance.  At the crux of those three things is personal and family discipline.

I don’t believe, in anyway, that Christ expects perfection, because it is through him that I am made perfect.  However, it is my conviction that I am to give my very best to God and His Church and although some of those things may be life long struggles, they still need to be addressed.

With that in mind, Leanne and I are working on getting rid of debt, I continue to learn about and make healthier decisions, and I am learning what it means to have balance in my life.  In many ways I am experiencing joy in ways I never have before but, there is also that ache in my soul for ministry.

I have no doubt that, when the time comes, God will provide the open door for me to be back in located ministry.  I look forward to that day as I miss it like crazy.  Until that time however, I will dive head first into how God is refining me.  I will swim in his unfailing love as I embrace the reality that located ministry or not, I am called to serve those around me and make His name famous.

Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement

Until next time…

5 Things I Will NOT Miss About New Orleans

5. Drunk Tourists – Sure they pump lots of money into the local economy but that doesn’t make them any less annoying.

4. Corruption – It is everywhere.  I mean we’re not Chicago, but it’s still pretty bad.

3. Stinging Caterpillars – Each May and June these demonic little creatures come forth.  If you have accidentally stepped on one or even barley touched one, you know how horrible this pestilence really is.

2. Roads – Seriously, its like driving in the hills of Tijuana.  I’m not entirely sure why there are so many beautification projects going on when you can’t even drive down your own block without bottoming out or seeing water come up from the ground. My suspension and alignment are very excited to be in a place where roads are smooth.

1.Summer! – …all seven months of it.  This past year for Halloween it was 84 degrees and humid.  That’s not ok. I know that Nashville will have heat and humidity but come Mid-Septemeber I can breathe easy as opposed to seeking counseling for my anger issues caused by the ridiculously long summers. New Orleans I love you, but May to November is kind of horrible.

Until next time…

5 Reasons Why I Am Not Looking Forward to Nashville

5. I love New Orleans – I really do.  See previous post.

4. Being Landlocked – For 28 of my 33 years of life I have lived within one hour of a beach.  Although I hate sand as much as I hate fire ants and spiders, living near a large body of water gives you a sense of freedom.  Sure Nashville has lakes and rivers but the nearest beach is like 10 hours away. On the plus side, that beach is in North Carolina…and I love me some North Carolina.

3. Making New Friends – Sometimes its just exhausting.  That being said it will be great to meet new people.

2. Tornados…again – I have gone from earthquakes (California), to tornados (Missouri), to hurricanes (Louisiana), back to earthquakes (California), back to hurricanes (Louisiana),, and now back to tornados (Tennessee).  Don’t get me wrong, Twister is a great movie, but I am not super excited to know that each Spring I may have to run to a basement at a moments notice.

and the number 1 reason is….

Well, I don’t have another reason.  Apparently there’s not too much to be hesitant about.  Sweet.

Until next time…

Top 10 Things I Will Miss About New Orleans


10. Festivals – It’s not a secret that New Orleans and all of South Louisiana know how to party.  Each month brings a different festival that celebrates anything from strawberries to jazz music and everything in between.

9. History – A part from Boston and Philadelphia there is no other city that has such a rich and varied history.  It is quite literally everywhere you look.

8. The Beach – There’s a beach in New Orleans? No, but there are some great beaches not too far away.  It was a regular activity for us to go spend the day in Bay St. Louis, grab a hot dog, and hang out at the beach for the day.  It’s not Seal Beach, Malibu, or even Pensacola but for us it was perfect.

7. Mardi Gras – If you are, or have ever been, a drunk tourist during Mardi Gras, you missed out on how great Mardi Gras really is.  I will miss gathering with friends on the neutral ground laughing, screaming, catching throws, and eating copious amounts of food.  But..I got my shoe from Muses, so I guess I can move on.

6. Sno-Balls – They are not shaved ice…they are so much better than that.  Soft sno completely drowned in your particular favorite flavor mixing to make the perfect warm weather treat.  My favorite will forever be Satsuma with marshmallow cream from Hansen’s.  I will miss these glorious things so much that I’m trying to figure out a way to open up a Sno-Ball stand in Nashville.

5. Christmastime – Christmastime is one of the best times in New Orleans.  From free concerts at the cathedral, to Celebration in the Oaks, to the bonfires at the levee – Christmas New Orleans style embodies what is great and unique about this city.  As an added sentiment, Leanne and I began dating at Christmas time.

4. Food – I will not be the first nor the last to proclaim the culinary awesomeness that exists in this city.  Keep a look out for my upcoming favorite New Orleans restaurant post that will be coming soon.

3. People – Not just the friends we have made but the fourth and fifth generation cajun, creoles, and New Orleanians as well.  Always ready with a good story, a funny anecdote, or a family recipe these resourceful inviting people have made this place home for me.

2. City Park – It might seem strange to be emotionally invested in a park, but I really am.  Not one week went by without me spending at least a few hours at this place.  It was here that I shed off close to 90 pounds as I ran the old golf cart trails or the path around the Big Lake.  It was here that we could go have a picnic.  It was here that I would go and think and/or pray.  I am sad that I will not see the master plan come to fruition but City Park will always be my park.

and last but not least…

1. My church familyJourney Christian Church, Hope Christian Church, and my friends in house church are filled with people that I simply can not say enough about.  I will forever be grateful for the friendships, encouragement, patience, grace, and partnerships that were experienced with so many beautiful people.  I will miss you most of all.

Coming Soon….

-5 Things I am not looking forward to about Nashville

-5 Things I will not miss about New Orleans

-My favorite places to eat in New Orleans

-A farewell letter to a city I love

Until next time….

Top 10 Reasons I Am Excited For Our Move to Nashville

10. Hockey – I love hockey and I will finally be living in a city again with a pro hockey team.  The Nashville Predators, I don’t know you yet, but I will – and since I can’t possible root for the Tennessee Titans (Go Saints!), I will most assuredly root for you.

9. Career and personal advancement for all three of us – It is one of the primary reasons we are moving after all.

8. Nature – Its everywhere.  You can be out in the country in about 15 minutes from almost anywhere in Nashville.  There are lakes and rivers that you can actually go swimming in, we are only three hours away from The Smokey Mountains, and there are greenways and hiking trails, literally, everywhere.

7. Music – I’m not a big country fan, but did you know that although Nashville is the country music mecca it also has a ton of other musical offerings?  It’s true.  Rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, christian, and a whole lot of stuff in between.  This is also means we can finally get Tara and Raz to come visit us which brings me to….

6. New Place to Visit for our friends and family – There is always an open spot at The Lytle House and you all know how I love to play tour guide.

5. Closer to some family – We will be within driving distance of everyone on Leanne’s side of the family.  This is the first time this has happened in our marriage.  Also, Nashville has more straight flights then New Orleans does to Los Angeles which makes getting home to my family easier as well.

4. Friendly People – Seriously, every time we have gone to Nashville we have encountered the friendliest people. It’s not just our opinion either…they were ranked. It’s actually a little terrifying in a way, but its kind of nice as well.

3. Cultural Activities – Having so many Universities has enabled Nashville to offer a ton of cultural activities.  Theatre, ballet, art museums, history, science centers, symphonies, and a ton more ensure that our family can continue to be unsheltered.

2. Dollywood – Technically not in Nashville but you know what I will be 2.5 hours away. Why is this important?  You must not know me.  My first crush was Dolly Parton and for many years I have wanted to go to Dollywood.  Mock me if you will…I can handle it, but mark my words, by year’s end I will be posting about my visit.

And my number one reason is….

1. SEASONS! – We will finally be living in a place that actually has four seasons.  We can watch the leaves change colors and go to a pumpkin farm or apple picking.  We can bundle up and actually wear scarves and hats and even occasionally play in the snow. We can watch the brightness of Spring actually come forth and, for the first time in a long time, I might not despise Summer…because in Nashville, Summer doesn’t last 7 months.

So those are my Top 10 reasons I am excited for our move to Nashville.  Up next, my  Top 10 things I will miss about New Orleans.

Until next time….