5 Days, 5 Ties

It's not often that I wear a tie. I do with some consistency, but it's not a daily occurrence. This week was a bit different. With an interview and a funeral scheduled over the past few days - I decided to go all out and dress up for the rest of my work week.

On the upside: my daughter now thinks I wear a tie every day.
On the down side: I feel pretentious.

Did you do anything out of the ordinary this week?


How to Live in Four Easy Steps. Part 4: The Example Has Been Set

Before you start reading, look into a mirror for a few minutes. Go ahead, it's OK - I can wait.

Now, what did you see? More important, who did you see? Are you happy with your reflection? Are there things in there you would like to change?

Mirrors serve a purpose, even if we don't appreciate the results of looking into them. They help us to see ourselves, to know our own appearance without having to rely on the testimony of others. But beyond reflective glass, there are other mirrors to help us see ourselves in a new light.

Through God's word, we can see our lives in light of divine measure. It is by reading God’s law that we are able to see our sin, our failures, and shortcomings. And even though we may not be able to see ourselves clearly, one day we will.

We also know that we are a reflection of God. God is love and love should be apparent in all our actions and define our lives.

He has also given us His Son, the ultimate example of how we should appear – both inside and out.

Isaiah 53 gives us the clearest example of how others saw Him (and often see us). He did not have an alluring appearance. He was despised. Despite being beaten and broken by others, He remained silent.

When we look at our reflection in light of God’s word it is Christ’s refection that we should see. But we are far from perfect. Sometimes we may see more of ourselves in the mirror, and less of Christ. But we can change our appearance, and Jesus has all ready given us His example.

Paul tells us that our attitude should be of the same “mind Christ Jesus had.” (Php 2:5) His very nature was fully God and in Him we are heirs in His Kingdom, but He never used his nature for his own gain. This is how we should live.

“He made himself nothing
By taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being,
He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to death.”
(Php 2:7-8)

To make ourselves nothing. To be humble and obedient, even to the point of death. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But just as Jesus’ reward was great, so is ours: life.

It is this gift of life that gives us hope. It is in hope that we live. And we are to live as a reflection of God. That reflection brings us full circle... God is love.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Php 2:1-4)

Now, take a moment to look in the mirror. How do you like what you see? Me personally, I want to look more like Christ.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 8/4/06)


3 Things

There are three things that my mind cannot comprehend today.

1. That it is the 22nd of September. Too soon.
2. That the weather is forecasted to be 80° today.
3. That it is supposed to be 80° on the 22nd of September.


How to Live in Four Easy Steps. Part 3: Why Quit Now?

Bob Dylan once said, "When you feel in your gut what you are and then dynamically pursue it - don't back down and don't give up - then you're going to mystify a lot of folks." It's funny, perseverance in any incarnation amazes and bewilders people.

Don't quit: it's a popular theme. One that is shouted at athletes in locker rooms across America. Whispered in broken marriages. A message of encouragement or rebuke, of promise or hope. It is an attitude we instill in our children as they learn to talk and take their first steps.

From Winston Churchill's Never Give In speech, to the cartoon of a frog choking the stork that is trying to eat it. From Tim Allen's cry "Never give up, Never surrender" in Galaxy Quest, to Reliant K's song Pressing On. The will to keep going - no matter what - is embedded in our culture.

Yet, quitting sometimes seems to be the easiest thing to do and those who defy that logic to weather the storm are often considered irrational.

The wisdom of man is foolish in God's eyes. The call to persevere is a constant element in God's word, in the conquest of the promised land, in the words of Jesus and the prophets who foretold His coming, and in many of Paul's letters.

In those times when perseverance seems the hardest thing to do, Paul gives us the first (and likely most difficult) step, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." (Php 3:13) To move on you must let go of past failures. I'm not saying to ignore them entirely or lose the lessons learned from those mistakes. But DO forget the act itself and never dwell on your errors. It's been said that without failure, success would be impossible. When I teach colleagues a new concept, I often explain it then let them try it out for themselves, knowing they won't get it right. Only after they have completely and utterly failed, I show them the correct way so they can see what they did wrong and how to succeed on their own. Don't let the act of a misstep distract you, but learn from it. Focus, and keep going.

But keep going for what? There is a reason to all we do, a purpose for why we are here. "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:14) There is more to life than what we can see. The unseen should be our focus and will be our reward. Quitting is such a selfish thing, and nothing should be done for our own ambitions, but for the glory of God.

There are a few keys to this perseverance. Know God. Know yourself. Realize you're not infallible. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Php 3:12)

God's got a hold on us, He won't let go even if we do. It is up to us to grasp on to the purposes Christ has for us. And His plans for us are amazing, why quit now? Like Dylan said, you'll mystify a lot of folks.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 8/4/06)


How to Live in Four Easy Steps. Part 2: Think About This

Some one once said the mind is a terrible thing to waste, yet we do it everyday. We waste our time, thoughts, and energies on frivolous things, to no purpose or reason than to stay busy.

There is a story that many of you may have heard, of two cronically ill men who shared a hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

Can you imagine? For weeks this man had filled his mind with imagery of beautiful scenery, the glory of God's creation, and humanity at its finest. But for what purpose, there was nothing to see out that window.

But the story doesn't end there. He asked a nurse why the other man had lied about seeing such wonderful sights. The nuse explained that the deceased roommate was blind and could not see a thing. But why? What compelled him? The nurse's only explination was, "perhaps to offer encouragement."

What do you see when you close your eyes? What passions and ideals consume your mind? I think the blind man in the story got it. He knew how to live. There were a lot of other things that he could have been thinking about. It all would have kept his mind busy, but would it have served any greater purpose?

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things." (Php 4:8)

Think about that. How do you keep mentally fit, emotionally centered, and spiritually healthy? It's all about what's inside your head. What do you think about? Is it productive to dwell on your problems? Or to hold onto anger? God's word has given us a blueprint for a healthy frame of mind. To think about truth, honor, justice, purity, beauty, excellence.

What kind of world would we live in if we gave more thought to such good things? Today's world is much the opposite. It thinks about lies, contempt, inequity, wickedness, disgust, and failure. We could do so much better.

In all things, in thought or deed, practice joy. "Rejoice in the Lord always." (Php 4:4) And keep your mind focused, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Php 4:5-6)

Just think.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 7/11/06)



There are many things that inspire me. My kids. Funny conversations I hear in the world around me. A compelling song. The way fog wraps itself around Canfield Mountain at sunrise.

Motivation is a different creature. If inspiration is how you do the things you do, motivation is the why. In my universe, inspiration is in infinite supply. However my motivation frequently needs a hint.

At home, I have that reminder to the right of my computer sandwiched between my hat collection and a cup of writing sticks.

This is what I see every time I reach for my mouse. Every time I sit at my desk, they're telling me to do something. Write something. Be productive.

They are as follows.

1. The Elements of Fiction Writing series that my sister-in-law bestowed upon me for my birthday.

2. A borrowed copy of Stephen King's On Writing.

3. Three dictionaries. English, Spanish, and German.

4. A book about parenting a kid with Aspergers.

5. Jon Acuff's Quitter. (ps, Quitter is currently available through iTunes for $5.95 - you should get it. Really, you should.)

What motivates you?



Yes, I actually said the following.

"Just imagine how productive we could be. We'd be both productive and unproductive at the same time - which is way more productive than being productive on it's own."

I love my job.


How to Live in Four Easy Steps. Part 1: Shine Like a Star

Every one wants to be famous. If you don't believe me, ask a bunch of elementary aged children what they want to be when they grow up. Answers will range from noble (policeman, fireman, doctor) to spectacular (professional athlete, rock star, actor/actress).

While you might find a kid who wants to be the ice cream man, you'll never find one who wants to be a lifetime Dairy Queen employee. Some kids dream of becoming the president of the USA, but none wish to become a crooked politician. I would doubt you could find any who wants to grow up to spend their lives stuck in middle management, work one meaningless job after another, or be a career telemarketer.

The existence of such jobs not only tell me of their necessity, but also of a tragic loss of hope on a nearly unimaginable scale. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we have forgotten how to dream. Perhaps it is the nature of our modern education system, one that sacrifices creativity on the altar of financial burdens. Perhaps it is just a simple change of perspectives as we get older.

My own career ambitions went through many phases while growing up. In fifth grade I wanted to be an astronaut, in junior high I wanted to be a rock star. I studied engineering throughout high school and planned on doing the same for college to eventually become an architect. After high school my hopes were to become a radio DJ, one of the funny ones with their own morning show. Now, more than a decade later, there is still that little boy inside of me who wants to be a rock star.

Every one wants to be famous. How is it that such a longing can be so ingrained into the very fiber of human nature? Is this yearning for the limelight wrong? This desire to be someone?

I believe those aspirations are very much a part of the God-shaped hole that each of us are created with. We try to fill that emptiness with fame, power, popularity, notoriety. With selfish ambitions, the spotlight can be a very dangerous place. But God fills it with His Glory. "for it is God who works in you... to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." (Php 2:13) If God is at work in us, then it is His purpose for which we do all things.

But would God allow each of us to be famous? Of course. But how?

"Do everything with out grumbling or arguing" (Php 2:14) No one likes a whiner, but God rewards those who keep a good attitude in all that they do. And what do we get out of it? "that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky." (Php 2:15)

I love that last part - that we'll shine among our generation like stars. In one of Charlie Peacock's songs he sings "I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens." Shining like stars. Does that mean we'll be recognized everywhere we go? No. But for the people that God puts in our lives we should be famous - though it shouldn't be us, but the light inside us that is instantly noticeable. When we share that light, that hope, whether it is on stage in front of a thousand people, in a coffee shop with a group of friends, or with a stranger at a bus stop, to them... we are famous. Not for our own glory, but for the glory of God. "Then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain." (Php 2:16)

Keep your dreams. I do. Maybe some day, I'll actually get paid to write. But I will be famous, even if it is only in the eyes of those who see Christ in me. It is worth the effort, to be a star.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 7/8/06)


tidbits (ish)

Christian started school this week.
So did JJ.
Zu starts next week.

I share my office (over-sized cubicle) with one other person. He does the job that I did before I got promoted. There is a lot of overlap between the two of us because we're the end result of a consolidation of four job titles that used to be held by six people.

This makes it easy for us when one or the other needs a vacation. He covers for me while I'm out and I cover for him while he's out.

Beyond the ease in professional duties, we have similar personalities (we're both geeks). We make each other laugh and we're frequently mocking the coughers on the other side of our cubicle wall.

Regardless of what happens during the day; the ad hoc requests, the never-ending parade of reports, being the big brother of our staff... the highlight of our day is what we've affectionately called "parking lot tetris." This is the time of day when several employees either take a lunch or end their shifts at the same time and all try to navigate their cars out of the narrow basement lot at the same time. It is usually haphazard and always entertaining. As one side of our cubicle is a large picture window that overlooks the basement parking lot, we have one of the best views from which one can observe this phenomenon.

However not everything we see happen below our office window is entertaining in a funny kind of way. Sometimes it's a "did that just happen?" kind of funny. Like the time we saw a fight a couple of months ago. Well, not actually a fight. More like an argument. A domestic dispute really. But the girl did slap the guy a couple of times.

My office mate and I watched the whole ordeal. And we gave our statements to the police. Then we forgot it ever happened. Speaking of which...

I got served this week.
Helpful hint to my female readers - if you slap your boyfriend/husband, technically that's called domestic battery.

I'm not the only one that got served. So did the guy that shares my office. The plus side: we get to testify at her trial on behalf of the prosecution. The downside is we both have to testify. Hopefully we don't have to testify at the same time as we usually cover for each other. If we're both gone, the system breaks.

I sent our boss an email today to explain our dilemma. The email said something along the lines of: "We'll both need these dates off. We've been served."

He quickly responded via IM with the question: how did you both manage to get served at once?

My response: well... we were at this dance competition and these two guys were busting these crazy break dancing moves that I'd never seen before. They spun and shuffled their way over to where we were standing, one pointed at us and the other shouted "you've been served."

Thankfully, my boss has a good sense of humor. When I told him the real story (fight, parking lot, police, she's been charged) he said it sounded like fun.

Two best statements I heard at poker night this evening:
1. "I'm a rapper, of course I carry a gun."
2. "I don't listen to other people's songs, I write my own."

That's called swagger.

If you look to the right, you may notice links to my secondary blogs. My original intent was to keep them separated as each blog has different purposes. However, the result has been that those secondary blogs are left ignored (both by me and by the rest of the interwebs).

This also prompted some tough decisions when I wrote my Church series. Should I post it here - where I have the most traffic and those posts would have the best visibility? Or should I post them on my What's Inside blog as that blog was designed to be an outlet for my religiously themed writing. End result, they ended up here. The dichotomy isn't working, so over the next few weeks I'm going to be doing some consolidation and cross-posting. You'll see entries here that originally appeared there. So don't be surprised to see some blog posts with a decidedly theological bent for a while.



My parents came to visit last week. We all had a great time but there are a couple things that I can't seem to sake. Two things really. Two things that just don't add up. Two things that no matter what I do to rationalize them, I just can't make sense of it.

1. My dad using a smart phone.
2. My dad talking about rap music.

There. I said it. I feel better now.

ps, it is nice to see him doing things that doctors once told him he'd never do again.