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Aug. 5th, 2010

Moody

Off

One of those days when I just feel gross and stuck and off. Though nothing's explicitly wrong, nothing's quite right, either. I'm restless when I'm alone, disconnected when communicating with others, and generally out of sync. Hope tomorrow is better and that I can be a better steward of whatever I'm feeling if it continues.
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Aug. 3rd, 2010

Seattle fog

Unneeded burdens and the easy yoke

So much fog that I can't see much past my block from the deck this morning. Wonder if that negates the benefit of taking morning tea here?

The "I don't care" virus seems to be gaining a foothold in my preferences recently, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Just having a growing sense of increasingly bigger chunks of how I spend my time that I really don't care about, and that makes them so much easier to edit and refocus when I'm simply mindful of that fact (rather than keeping things going simply because they have momentum, regardless of meaning). Editing can bring so much freedom, and I think my life has a lot more space than I normally assume.

This might also bring a degree of freedom into my relationships, particularly those that aren't the closest to me, the ones that have plenty of blank spaces that I too often fill with my own opinions and judgements. So much of that simply doesn't matter and only serves to degrade my love and respect for others, as well as creeping into relationships that are closer and more vital to the life I'm really living.

The space I free up is of limited value in its own right. But Jesus and the abundant life to which He calls me can put that space to good use, and I'm often not yielding it to Him. I feel burdened by His yoke when the real heaviness comes from all the other things onto which I'm trying to hold, and so I resist Him instead of casting my cares upon Him. For whatever reason, I think I'm afraid of Him taking some of them away entirely, but I'm beginning to realize, in the most roundabout fashion, that I literally have nothing to lose.

Jul. 31st, 2010

Table

"Hey, nerd!"

Game night with our communitygroup last night, hosted by the gracious velouria73. Fun to spend the evening with friends and yummy snacks. We played the simply awesome Happy Days board game, immortalized when the gang from Friends played Strip Happy Days (we opted not to play it this way).

Tried much of the week to keep a couple of work projects from bleeding into the weekend (after a while, you can just see this stuff coming—there's nothing new under the sun), but no dice. Seeing it coming kind of bites sometimes, but at least I don't have to wonder if I did everything I could, and it's not a terrible thing regardless. Forward we go...

Jul. 29th, 2010

Irwin's logo

Grounding and remembering

Enjoying a cool morning at Irwin's with a cup of coffee and a slice of banana bread. Felt pretty chaotic and untethered of late, which is uncomfortable for me, so this is nice. Sometimes the simplest things are also the most grounding.

We had a full slate last weekend, with a whopping six social engagements over two days, plus dinner out with a friend on Tuesday. And even though that's tiring to my introverted soul on one level (I only spoke with barlow_girl and a barista Monday!), each had a different kind of goodness that makes me glad to have our life, our church, and our relationships here.

Sometimes I feel a bit like the protagonist from Memento, needing to leave notes and messages to myself to remind me who I am when I forget. That's a lot of what keeping this journal is about. And as a Christian, I know that's also what the Holy Spirit does through Scripture—a "means of grace," in theological verbiage. I avail myself too little, I'm afraid.

Jul. 23rd, 2010

iCon

iPad goodness

Finally took the plunge and bought an iPad yesterday. So fun! Enjoying coffee from Irwin's on the upstairs deck and giving this blog client a try. Was resisting the urge to get an iPad for my usual, sensible reasons (waiting for second versions of new electronics, not needing another piece of tech, etc.), but considering our upcoming Alabama trip for pigthatisbig's wedding and the amazing battery life of the iPad put me over the edge. Looking forward to giving the BanzaiPad its first Sunday morning spin, since that's where I can see it being most handy.
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Jul. 13th, 2010

RTFM

Momentum, showing up, and giving up

An area where I regularly struggle with others is related to momentum. Before I begin, a few caveats are probably in order:
  • When it comes to laziness, if I'm not chief among sinners, that's only because I was too lazy to try.
  • Taking time to reflect and to really think things through are both important and severely underrated practices.
  • Doing anything simply because "we should do things" (particularly "for" anyone else) is lame.
These firmly in mind, it can be frustrating to me to so often need to "push" to keep things in motion and on track. Not only is it disheartening when I feel things grind rather than go, but it also further plays to my insecurities in that I feel less valued and understood when I have to push.

Doing what I do, the biggest factor in keeping momentum is nothing more complex than showing up. More on showing up…Collapse )

Regrettably, however, people sometimes simply don't show up, and that can kill momentum. We affect one another. And it happens—of course it happens, regardless of our best efforts and intentions, and forgiving one another and moving forward is part of who the gospel calls us to be as God's people. Sometimes I struggle with giving that forgiveness, but it's clear that giving it is faithful and withholding it is not.

Further, sometimes not showing up becomes a pattern, whether for an individual or as a norm for a group. That's where my tolerance really wears thin. When that happens, not showing up becomes (or is revealed to be) giving up, which is toxic. It's not the same as stepping down; it's passive-aggressive and ultimately destructive. And sometimes even destruction is necessary to show us, in ways we weren't able to see otherwise, where we don't need to be and what we don't need to be doing.

But in areas central to the church's mission, that entropy needs to be fought before it takes even more territory. It is not good—a status which, as stewards of a creation God has declared to be good and ambassadors of a Kingdom in which our King is restoring and renewing all good things, should call us to action. Giving up is the antithesis of the gospel. We are no longer holding fast to hope we've been given, and thus are no longer being faithful to who He's calling us to be and what He's calling us to do.

And if that's where my tolerance is thin, here's where it's nearly nonexistent: if you can't show up, for whatever reason, then for the sake of all that is good (quite literally), don't get in the way of those who are. God willing, they will keep moving forward, and that may be inconvenient or uncomfortable, but that's because not showing up, for whatever reason, often has these consequences. Or you may feel like your impedance is in some way serving others by "giving them a break," but relief for those serving God should be considered carefully, in full dependence on the one who established the sabbath—which often won't line up exactly with your own preferences.

Hebrews 10:23-25 has what I hold to be the final word on showing up in the worship and work of the church:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Jesus, may you find us thus when you come again, and give us grace until then.

Jul. 11th, 2010

Arch

Morning fog on Camano Island

All is quiet on the beach on Camano Island. Thick fog keeps me from seeing far past the shore, a contract with the clear day we enjoyed yesterday. Of our communitygroup, only barlow_girl and I are awake, and it's good for us to all be peaceful together (awake or asleep). I've really enjoyed our time; getaways like this are good for us and too easily overlooked. No deep or astonishing reflections for me just now, simply a quiet gratitude for a good gift.

Jul. 10th, 2010

Multiplicity

Highlight reel

Last summer we spent much of our time packing, painting, and moving into our current (rental) home, so it's felt like we have a bunch of "extra" time this summer. Of course, we've also found plenty of ways to fill it so far, and lots of them have been fun:
  • A couple of Thursdays ago, we attended a day-long Brain Rules seminar at Seattle Pacific University. This may seem über-nerdy (because it is), but it was also fascinating to learn from Dr. John Medina—I attended a luncheon a few years ago at which he spoke on attention span and ministry, and I've been hooked ever since.

  • The next day, barlow_girl's book club came to our house for potluck dinner, discussion of Julia Child's My Life in France, and a viewing of Julie & Julia. Inspired by the book, the food was delicious (a benefit of being the husband of the hostess). Since I didn't read the book, I skipped the discussion and joined the group for the movie, which was expectedly light and Hollywood-ized while remaining enjoyable.

  • barlow_girl's birthday was that Saturday, so I treated her to Savor Seattle's Chocolate Indulgence Tour, which was a big hit for both of us. We also enjoyed dinner at Cantinetta, a fairly new Italian restaurant in our neighborhood with a cozy atmosphere and dishes emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients. We were fans.

  • On Independence Day the next week, we had our friends Lorrie and the Vosses over for grilling and viewing the fireworks from our deck. We're blessed not only with fantastic friends, but also with evenings like these that give us great reminders of that blessing.

  • This Thursday, we met up with one of my friends from college at Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont. It's such a gift to be able to reconnect and deepen a friendship after so many years, as well as discovering how God can use our stories and experiences to encourage one another.

  • This weekend (including when I'm writing this, though I'll likely need to wait until I return home to post it), we're at velouria73's family beach house on Camano Island with our communitygroup. We took our first retreat here last summer and were eager to get away together again. So far, it's been very relaxing and provided an excellent setting to get to know one another better.

Jun. 24th, 2010

iSupes

When something happens to wake us up

If you want to grow anything worthwhile, it's all about the soil. That's why you have to rotate the crops from time to time. Anything that stays in the same soil too long withers and eventually dies. I think people are the same way. If we stay too long in the same soil, we start to dry up inside. Soon, there's nothing left but the shell, and after a while, even that goes.

If we do the same things, in the same way, over and over, in time, we fall asleep in our own lives. Until something happens to wake us up. That's when, like any living thing, you have to take yourself out of where you are and put yourself back where you should be, where you started off before you fell asleep. You have to rotate back to fertile ground…to the soil that nourished you…back to the earth.

—Jonathan Kent, Superman #700 (by J. Michael Straczynski)
God alone knows what the thing to wake us up will be. I've had a few this week (who knows yet if I'm done; the week has a few days left to surprise me), and each successive event evokes a "how did things get here?" response from me, alongside a tension I can feel in my stomach when I think about the road forward. When there are blank spaces to fill by imagination, it's easy to fill them with anything but a steady, sure trust in God's faithfulness.

For me, as a person whose only hope is in Jesus (which I honestly believe is an accurate description of everyone), that place of faith is exactly where I need to be. I'm thankful for the wake-up calls, even those I'd not have chosen, because they're really calls to a reality that's always been present—I've just forgotten in my complacency. And that reality, that my life and its outcomes are fully dependent on Him, isn't just true; it's also deeply good.

Those wake-up calls often invite me not only to think back and remember God's faithfulness, but often to go back to where I was "before I fell asleep." The prospect of going back is dicey business theologically; God's plan for His people isn't a return to Eden, and a lot of sin and folly comes with trying to do so. But my memory is also a gift, a part of the image of God, and He can remind me of the ways I've forgotten my first love as well as restore than love, covering my unfaithfulness with His steadfast love, which endures forever. Sometimes it helps for even my flesh to remember, to get out of my current ruts (which may be filled with good things that have gotten out of whack) and return to some of the basics.

That's a tall order when burdened with sorrow and fear, when shadows are allowed to occupy all the empty spaces of my imagination. Growth may be facilitated by discipline, but it isn't discipline in and of itself—it is a gift of God, not the invention of any man. So I need to ask for it, to wait for it, to hope for it, to expect it based on God's love, goodness, and sovereignty, and in the meantime, put myself back where I should be.

Jun. 22nd, 2010

Seattle fog

Keeping up with keeping up

Summer has begun in Seattle, with temperatures in the 60s and frequent rain. It's in fashion to complain, but I've never cared much for fashion, find weather talk tiresome, and really don't mind the weather in the first place.

Been missing writing, so giving journalling another go. Enough of my entries have some mention of this that I should really just say, "Ditto last entry."

Today I'm doing some user research with Microsoft, which establishes that not only does my soul have a price, but it's also deeply discounted. Further, the study is at The Bravern in Bellevue, so that price is, paradoxically, upscale and pretentious. Sounds about right.

What's the deal with "keeping up"—with people, events, tasks, even distractions like entertainment or sports? Is it even possible? How worthy of pursuit is it? Starting to think it's maddeningly out of reach, that we can always reach for so much more than we can truly grasp, that all of it is more a stream to slip into or wave to surf than anything that can ever be accomplished or managed. And the fact is, I care so very little about most of it; it's the illusion of possibility that eggs me on more than any of the "things" with which I can "keep up." My sense of the possible is warped, and it often cuts into any judgment of value I should probably be making.

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