Posted by: chrisdavis | September 28, 2010


James has always marched to a different drummer. Actually, he danced to a different music. Even as a child, he would tap dance down the isles of the grocery store, or Wal Mart, or anywhere we were—in public—while his brothers went somewhere else so as not to be perceived as being related to him. He didn’t do this to show off, mind you. He was just a dancer, lost in the world of music and movement.

In his teen years, James came across a quote that became sort of a life-driver for him. He told me one day, “If I will spend a few years doing what no one else will do, I will spend the rest of my life doing what no one else can­­­ do.”

Not long ago I phoned James and got his voice mail. I heard him say…

“Hey, this is James. I’m probably dancing right now, or doing something else amazingly fun, so leave a message…”

When I heard these words, I felt that something had gone terribly right!

When I finally did reach James, I asked him about the voice mail message and he made a comment I will never forget.

“Dad,” he said, “In my whole life I think I’ve known only three people who are actually doing what they love doing instead of what other people think they should be doing.” When he named the three, he included himself.

Think about this: How would you like your children to grow up and be able to tell you they are doing exactly what they should be doing? What else could they say that would make you more proud of them and think, just maybe, you had done a good job of parenting?

But if you are an adult, how would you like to be able to say to James, “The reason you only know three is that you haven’t yet met me!”

Unfortunately, I have met people all over the world who are not doing what they should be doing.

If you aren’t sure what I mean by “what they should be doing”, you will understand as you read this book. I hope you find yourself being convinced that you really can do what you should be doing. And, until you are doing what you should be doing, you will continue to live someone else’s life instead of your own. You may even be good at living someone else’s life, but it will never be your life. You will continue to be unfulfilled and always have that gnawing feeling that you are taking someone else’s path to a place you were never intended to go.

By the way, what does James mean when he says, “I’m probably dancing right now or doing something else amazingly fun”? It means that, after doing many other things in life that our culture might consider more “respectable”, he has been willing to accept that he is never happier or feels more fulfilled than when he is dancing. Can a “real man”—and a really spiritual man at that—also be a great dancer? Meet James Davis who is an inspiration to a lot of people, including his Dad.

This book is dedicated to those who are doing what they should be doing and to those who want to move in that direction. I hope you are encouraged and inspired as you read of the people I’ve known.

I will warn you that I am not going to avoid controversy in writing this book. I think some things need to be said about an increasing narcissism and self-centeredness in our society. Narcissism and self-centeredness are not what this book is about. This book is about ordinary human beings, in relationships with one another, finding the freedom—and giving one another the permission—to be all they were created to be.

Write and tell me your own story: How did you discover that you were (or were not) living your own life and what are you doing about it?



  1. Funny you should ask, because homeschooling my kids has been the most amazing and fun thing I’ve ever done. I’ve had lots of jobs: drug store counter waitress, making stained glass, store clerk, factory worker, accrual clerk at a bank, secretary, cashier and wire operator at EF Hutton, bank teller, executive secretary…but as a homeschool mom I get to write, teach (not only my own kids, but co-ops too), organize, research, use my artistic talents, bake, can, take great trips, be around amazing kids and their fabulous moms. It has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. Now, when the kids graduate in a few years, I don’t think I can go back to a 9-5 job. I’d love to write a book.

  2. You may write a book some day. Even if it’s just for yourself and for your kids to read someday. Not enough parents write their lives for their kids to read. I doubt you will ever go back to a 9-5 job. You are much too creative!

  3. This has been in the forefront of my mind the last couple of years. I grew up loving anything beautiful. I have a passion for visual arts as well as ballet and other forms of dance. But noticing, and appreciating and creating beautiful things was not on my father’s list of values. He is very money driven. Numbers and money are his passion…so they should be everyone else’s too (in his mind). I desperately wanted his approval so I released my passions for dance and art to pursue more “appropriate” things. However, I grew up just like you said “never knowing what I wanted to be” because I dismissed the very giftings God gave me. Now, at 30-something I have started to pursue those gifts. I returned to school to get my art degree last school year and absolutely loved it and felt such peace (and did very well at it too). However, this school year I was lead to return to homeschooling my son, so I put my own schooling on hold for a time. But now I know with confidence “what I want to be when I grow up”. I really want to help my son discover his calling in his younger years, rather than go through years of not being himself in order to please others, that would be a travesty to me. Who knows, maybe my son and I will go to college together someday?

    • What a great note! Chris

  4. Doing something you LOVE– Wow! That would be a wonderful goal, I think, for our kids as well as ourselves. I have 9 kids and have homeschooled them all; I know there were many times when in the thick of this (especially when teaching four or five at once) that I felt unhappy because there was just too much for me to do, and I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t feel successful, and besides that there was no time to do anything else that I would want to do for myself. I’ve learned a lot through this process, and now that I’m teaching my youngest two kids (11 and 13) I really love homeschooling. But I remember a time when reading from a book, a think it was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, when the character in the story was told all the subjects she was required to study (it was a very long list), she asked, “But when am I going to live?” and that struck such a chord with me– as an overwhelmed homeschool mom, I wanted to know the same thing– when am I going to live? Back to the present– I did pursue some creative arts even during the busy times, and enjoyed that very much (music and drawing and writing)– but it is during the present that I have really invested more energy and time into these. A couple of years ago I enrolled in an online songwriting school, and am now attending monthly songwriting meetings. Also, I’m learning a lot about graphic design and recently started learning about web design so I can sell some of the curriculum materials I designed while going through those many difficult years. I don’t have a lot of good advice for other stressed homeschool moms; I think some stressful situations are unavoidable. But I do want to make available some of the materials that I eventually developed that really did help me as I navigated what seemed like a maze in learning how to teach lots of kids with various different needs at once.

    • Diane, it sounds as if you are just now beginning to pick up on some of your own dreams. That’s great. And, to know you have/are raising 9 children. A major feat, but one that will have many, many future rewards. Good for you and thanks for sharing.

  5. I feel so blessed to have a career that blends so beautifully with homeschooling my children. The business itself helps in training up my children. I care for elderly and disabled individuals who are living in my home. This is a true family business. I believe with every bit of my heart that God put my mother into this field, just as I was graduating HS and then put a series of circumstances in my life so I would work for her then buy the business years later. It has also provided us with cash for any materials we want to explore, field trips, taking my oldest to Israel, outside activities and many ministry projects. Looking back at the years I spent digging in my heels because I did not want to be in the business just convinces me all the more of the fact that God knew better than I. I don’t think I could have homeschooled under any other conditions. It’s so natural. And the happiest moments of each day are those that I spend training up my children.

    • It’s always great to hear from you, Julie. Encouraging, too. Have a great week.

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