Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Not Enough Hours In The Day

I spent this afternoon looking at my work schedule and my calendar and my to-do list wondering how I am going to fit it all in.  I suspect that part of the problem is I enjoy my child, my wife, food and my six-hours-of-sleep-a-night too much.  I’m typing this while the wife is already curled up in bed.  After posting I've still two things that have to get done and more that, by necessity I've put off til tomorrow.

My plans get slammed often.  Slammed like a forty pound weight falling on your toe—which is exactly what happened to my employee last weekend at the gym.  Writing and cycling training will have to get squeezed in after the now required six-day-work-week!

I’m glad for the change of Daylight Savings coming in March.  It will make it mentally easier to pursue those goals and duties required day by day.  The rest will require some discipline and saying “No.”  Which is what I've been saying to sleep but she won’t take it for an answer.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Holes That God Is Slow To Fill But Security Is In Christ

I can’t pinpoint the day the brokenness began.  Even back to my childhood I remember seeking the Golden Haired Woman.  In reference to Bly, Eldredge sees the Golden Haired Woman as mythological---our lost masculinity.  Growing up my brokenness manifested itself through pride, arrogance, rebellion and a million other little sins.  As a teenager I recognized this battle within me and sought spiritual solace in music.  This wasn’t my best choice.  Christ got a hold of me in my late teens.

The Bible speaks of a battle that we are engaged in once we end up on Christ’s side.  Paul indicates that we have weapons of warfare specifically for the destruction of fortresses.  These fortresses are primarily in our mind; wrong beliefs and belief-systems built up over the years.  My fortresses were occupied by braided, long-haired women---again the mythology. 

As I mature I find great joy in Christ’s presence.  I enjoy music that celebrates Biblical truth especially if it is Christ centered.  Still there are always times, some far worse than others, when this battle rages and the enemy’s fiery darts seem impossible to flee.  I have bad days and good days but few days are battle free.  I recognize this huge hole in me that I used to always fill with dreams of the girl next door.  I wish this stuff didn’t bubble up so easily.  I wish Christ would fill that hole completely, that I would learn to lean 100% on truth that destroys fortresses.  I’m not there.  I hate this. 

Instead I trust in a risen Christ that secured my righteousness for me through dying on a cross.  When my fortresses overwhelm I trust Him as Rock, Fortress and Deliverer.  There I find the peace to rise and fight again the next day, and I presume the day after that til I see His face and am finally complete and free. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Mind-Feelings Connection

There was tightness in his chest, adrenaline pouring into his bloodstream and his mind recognized only that his body was revving up with no place for it to go.  He leaned up against a wall and forced himself—first to breathe then to breathe deeply.  He felt rivulets of sweat roll down his sides.  Fear and anxiety can do that to you. 

I realized this week that I have some irrational fears.  One of my fears when charted would look like this: Trials happen to everybody, we grow through difficulty, life is going along to well now so the shoe is about to drop and a big horrible event is coming.  Stupid, right?  This thinking, at a very low frequency, robs me of my joy. My feelings intermesh with my thinking. 

In her book, Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck writes, “The unconscious portion of the human mind communicates through symbolism when it creates dreams, language, and every form of art.  It can also express itself symbolically by acting its messages out with the body.” Donald Miller in his blog post, “Why IDon’t Go To Church Very Often,” says of the mind-feelings connection, “Before we get too irate and have a trigger reaction against the idea feelings are actually valid if verified and tested, we should consider new revelations in brain science, learning-style revelations and basic psychology. What about intuition, what about the whole brain? What about Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence? What about Sir Ken Robinson’s work on education reform? What about Jung’s early work on personality theory and motives? And even Malcolm Gladwell’s work on thinking without thinking? “ 

Two times I remember having massive anxiety; one entailed quitting my job and switching to a new employer and the second was before my first marriage.  Both instances ended badly.  I suspect there may have been an interaction between my feelings and my mind which I should have explored further. 

In the ancient book of Esther God uses the insomnia of a king (Esther 6:1) to change the course of a nation.  Perhaps our feelings when awakened are in place to awaken and arouse us as well.  If only we do the hard work of introspection and prayer to discern what’s going on in our hearts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Rulebook On Ordering Starbucks At A Different Coffee Establishment

Starbucks is back in the news again today thanks to comedienne Nathan Fielder. I work for a Starbucks competitor (if there is such a thing) and we have a kiosk in stores just like they do. I am consistently surprised that most of the coffee-buying population has been successfully brainwashed and converted to the Starbucks flock. Customers come in and order as if they are in a Starbucks: Tall, Grande or Venti. They also order items off the Starbucks menu despite the reality that they are not at a Starbucks. Many even try to use their Starbucks gift cards. Thus I think there should be a rulebook for people who want Starbucks coffee but end up in a coffee joint run by a different denomination.

1) If you are going to order Tall or Grande know what size it is at Starbucks first. A Tall anyplace isn’t the largest cup of coffee you can get nor is a Grande. If you order Grande from me I may well give you a large for the extra profit.

2) Don’t assume that you can say, “I’m from the Pacific Northwest,” and use it as a legitimate reason for only speaking Starbuck.

3) Learn what you drink. Is it a latte, a cappuccino, macchiato or what? If I ask you, “What kind of Mocha?” don’t jump up and down shouting, “I don’t know! That’s what I always get!”

4) Ordering a tea without water is illogical. Do you order coffee without water?

5) Most likely I won't shake, stir or sweeten the tea I serve you.

6) No, I don’t know if Starbucks carries Hemp milk.

7) Baristas are by and large a patient lot there to serve you. Work with them during the translation process.

8) Do you order a Jumbo Jack when you go to McDonalds (I suspect some of you do). Make an effort to order off the menu of the establishment you are in.

9) It’s okay to say, “At Starbucks I get…” and ask me what I suggest. At least then I know you realize you are in a different establishment.

10) Don’t freak out because the barista makes your drink differently than they do. Do you tell your mechanic how to fix….oh, never mind.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Divorce Is Hard On Dads

Divorce is hard on dads as well as moms. Moms get all the publicity and dads get lots of bad press. I suspect it’s not hard on the bad dads; the ones that leave town, the ones that left long ago but now make it official by moving geographically away. For those dads--- the illicit affair dads, the fisticuff beating dads and dead beat dads of all sorts divorce maybe isn’t so bad. It’s really tough on the good dads though.

I don’t have any statistics. I’ve heard some stories. I know some good dads whose marriages crashed and burned. Not perfect dads or wonderful husbands but dads that tried to stay in the trenches and be dad. I have my story too.

Not getting the kiss goodnight—every night. That was the most difficult part initially. Not hearing the day to day stories and missing out on the soft, quiet, big tuck-in and kisses was a killer. Sometimes the tuck-ins weren’t soft and quiet but came with wrestles and laughter, maybe even body noises and goofy eyed joking around. The good dads lose out on that because moms generally end up getting most the kid time.

Societal norms imply that mom is always the good guy. That’s not always true. This too is hard for the trying-to-be-good dad. Sometimes the mom wields her state given power against the good dad. It cuts both ways. The mom or the dad can use words and time to stack the deck against the other parent. That’s especially difficult for the good dad.

Truth is the dad may have made some serious mistakes while in the marriage. He may have abused alcohol. There may have been some sex outside the marriage bed. None of us is immune to our own unique brand of brokenness. Standing for your kids after such failure is tough. It’s hard for the good dads.

For those marriages where there is joint custody it hurts to see your children live like transients as they move from one home to another. Tough too to see them coming to grips with the brokenness of parents, tougher too if mom manifests bad behaviour that bruises your kids heart and feelings.

Still the good dads hang in there and keep at it. We keep affirming and proclaiming our love. We demonstrate commitment by being in the game, by midnight trips to Walmart for school supplies and dropping by after-school assemblies after an eight hour work day and two hour commute. The good dads invest in their kids. The good dads do all they can to let their kids know they are there for them. We don’t get all the press and publicity but divorce is hard on dads too.

Friday, February 07, 2014

For That Is Dissipation

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18 NAS

How often do I waste energy and time on things that don’t fit with my personal goals? How many ways do I water down life and cause it to be less impactful, purposeful or powerful?

If you were to ask a Christian what that verse is about they would tell you it’s about drinking alcohol. Duh; don’t get drunk with wine. Today I was thinking about my own behavior and it occurred to me that the crux of the verse is right after the piece about getting drunk---“for that is dissipation.”

Webster’s dictionary defines it thusly: the process of slowly disappearing or becoming less: the act of using all or a lot of money, time, etc., in a foolish way: behavior that shows you are interested only in pleasure, money, etc. They also define it as wasteful expenditure.

Being “baked” and wasted with wine is visible and obvious. Daily dissipation isn’t quite so obvious. I have days when I don’t talk to God. It’s an easy slide; easy to get going and forget (not “Let go and let God,” but letting go of God completely.) I can get angry and fed up with people so as not to give a rip! Dissipation is so subtle.

So yes getting drunk is dissipation. So is endless pursuit of exercise or to much television. The point isn’t to get us thinking about those horrible obvious sins. The point is that we easily miss the mark. That’s why the rest of the chapter calls us to rely on the Spirit and in fellowship with one another. Sometimes it takes a fellow traveler to say, “Dillo you’re dissipated!” It’s a thousand course corrections and employing all the help we can muster to keep us focused. Waste happens. We just can’t stay there when it does.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I'm Forgetting The Rains of Summer

I’m forgetting the rains of summer. Water filled the wash; top soil loosed its hold on earth and was carried by flash flood through dry river bed to fill empty barren spaces, once too low now filled with ripe top soil.

A season later and I’m dry as a bone; dried and cracked, wind bent I bow to the ground. Oh that a Spirit would blow; that cold wind would invigorate, that rain would come with refreshing, with greening. Oh for renewal.

The clouds mock and tease; they say they bring rain but it’s a lie. They bring cold. Breaking up the blue sky the sun reaches around them; not hidden, nor fully displayed. Oh how beautiful the blue sky against the black and grey illusion of coming rain clouds.

I bow to the ground. I long for water; for revival for this lush garden brought low by this season of drought.

Green fronds spring up; finding water they spring up, sparse but their bright green shines fluorescent against the dry cracking blacks, beige and browns. They shoot straight up; are they trusting for water or believing the lie of the clouds? In their innocence they shout; they spring, they sing of a hope that is coming.

I’m forgetting the rains of summer. Torrent that brought fresh, nitrite and oxygen filled soil to fill in empty places. I am lost in the winter. The fierce wind cracks that which is dry and devoid of sap. I forget that spring is coming with warmth, color and new surpises.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Importance of a Personal Mission Statement

“Years ago I wrote a mission statement for my life, and the mission statement is simply “I want to be God’s best audio-visual aid of how His power shows up best in weakness. ….God seems to delight in taking the ill-equipped, untrained, unskilled, and unprofessional and placing them to do a job so that the whole world would know that God is God.”---joni_eareckson_tada_oscar_nod_is_incredible">Joni Eareckson Tada in an interview with World magazine.

I was powerfully struck in two ways by Joni’s mission statement. The idea that individuals should have a mission statement rattled my brain a bit. Joni is living out her statement. It is evident in her life and her ministry (a false dichotomy really). She was a leading voice for the Americans with Disabilities Act and leads a ministry that for 35 years has provided a hundred, thousand wheelchairs to people worldwide and touched disabled and hurting humans everywhere---including myself.

In reflecting I see specific benefits to a mission statement. Primarily it sets a parameter for purpose. Let’s say your mission statement was to be an expert on movies. You are not going to spend your weekends reading---unless you are reading film reviews. You are going to watch one or more movies. You might subscribe to IMDB. Your time and your energy is shaped and motivated via your mission statement. It directs you in what you do and helps inform what you need not do.

Mission statement allows you freedom to flesh out options. Joni is invested in a myriad of ways to fulfilling her mission. Her ministry provides wheelchairs to many, she has a radio show, she writes books and she teaches on God’s purpose in suffering. These are not mutually exclusive areas but all fit in with her personal statement to be used as an audio-visual aid.

One can hone in on one’s own statement by thinking about those things that set you afire. What topic makes you hot under the collar? What stirs your heart? Focus there and you will be on the path to your own statement.

Fine and good but what’s my personal mission statement? Christian legalism gets me fired up. Hearing and reading about people who are oppressed by others or other governments breaks my heart. I write a blog with an emphasis on “coming alive.” It’s a work in progress but my own mission statement is, “To encourage and exemplify freedom and grace in Christ and in the fullness of life.”

I hope that you are provoked to ponder your own life and create your own mission statement. In it you’ll find freedom to run down the path your heart desires and peace in saying “no” to those trails that beckon but lead to bad investments and bad ends.