Madeleine L'engle

This post was inspired by a couple of people who have had a large influence in my life in the last couple years. First, on the positive side of this post is Madeleine L’Engle – specifically her book “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art”, which, ironically, is one of her few works of non-fiction. On the negative side, is Dave Ramsey, who I consider a positive influence in my life as well, but who I think is dead wrong in his views on fiction and non-fiction, at least to the degree I’ve heard him talk about it.

I’m not saying non-fiction has no place. In fact, it has a very important place. But it’s all I hear emphasized in many circles. I’ve also heard Dave Ramsey call fiction “junk food for the brain” more times than I can count. I agree a lot of fiction is a waste of time, but no more proportionally than non-fiction. If good non-ficion is a good, wholesome, lean steak, bad non-fiction is like that jelly inside a can of Spam. It’s technically protein, but it’s completely worthless filler. In the same way, the right kind of fiction is nutritious and sweet and immensely pleasurable, like a fresh piece of pineapple.

Good fiction gets in through your emotions in a way non-fiction can’t. I can tell you that reading “The Hobbit” makes me want to be a better man every time I read the story. It gives me hope that pudgy, suburban kid with no sense of his own courage and abilities can find himself out in the wild, and can figure out he’s part of a bigger story. Kind of like I believe God intends us to be.

Reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” helps me remember that adventure and magic can be found everywhere.

I’ll even extend the analogy to everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Television. Watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (yes, I’m serious) or its spin-off “Angel” helps me remember how much we really really need other people.

Really.

All that to say, focusing too much on non-fiction will make for a very empty and unbalanced life. You need a good imagination just as much as you need a good intellect. You need your right brain as much as your left.

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The ultimate beginner

It was almost exactly one month ago I wrote about always being a beginner. And it’s funny how that turned out. This is another ramble, I guess, but I think important. The job I had just started at the time of the last post ended abruptly just over one week ago – no explanation given, just a phone call at about 7:00pm to the consulting company that placed me there, telling them that was my last day, no reason given. There wasn’t even anything I could point to from my 5 weeks there to give me a clue. No one had talked to me or to the consulting firm to share concerns about my performance. Nothing. So here I am again, not sure where to go or what to do. My wife and our friends, Mike and Kara Hylton were all discussing this last week, the day after it happened and Anna mentioned she was having a hard time, feeling like she was trying to figure out why God let this happen. And Mike mentioned he didn’t think God worked that way, like he’s not there like the harsh schoolmaster making us do the lesson over again.

I’ve been thinking about this and I think the answer lies somewhere in between.

No, I don’t think God orchestrated this whole situation just to teach Anna and me to trust Him better.

Then again, I don’t think this was out of His control either, that this was just people being their sinful, jerky selves either, although that was certainly part of it.

Here’s my main support:

I Peter 1:6-7 (ESV): 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I personally think God uses pain for our benefit – not like the schoolmaster just making us do it over and over again, but like the Father who knows exactly how much it hurts but knows we need it anyway.

All this to say, I can honestly say I’m going through this trusting God more than I ever have. And that’s a good thing.

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Sorry if today’s post is kind of stream-of-consciousness. I just had a lot to get out today.

Today, I admittedly logged into my own blog this morning for the first time in about 6 weeks. And it struck me how much I fall short of my own goals sometimes. I’ve had it drilled into me that I MUST BLOG CONSISENTLY if I intend to be a successful blogger.

And I do.

But then it hit me again. I’m only human, and I figure on some level, I’d rather read something honest and heartfelt, even if it’s not published as consistently as I’d like. I’ve noticed that’s really how I operate across the board. For instance, The Violet Burning, possibly my favorite band in the world, hadn’t put out an album of fully new material since early 2006 (excluding a live recording and an album reworking some of their early songs), and for a good year or more I eagerly awaited their new album. And you know what? It was completely worth it. To quote Toy Story 2, “You can’t rush art.” That’s what I intend this blog to be. Art worth reading and passing on.

So this post is about being myself, admitting, when it comes down to it, I’m always really a beginner at something, especially when it comes to worthwhile things. And I know more deeply, as life goes on, it’s important to keep that posture throughout life. I think between reading “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard, and now reading “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning, I think I’m finally figuring out that God really does love me right where I am, and on that basis I can practice becoming a “Little Christ”, as the word “Christian” means.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be a more mature and disciplined person as I grow older, but I’m finally realizing how much that means admitting I’m just a beginner.

For instance I wrote a couple months back about making the choice to turn down a “safe” job to stay self employed. In that, I have to admit, I didn’t really see the whole picture. I’m now at a full-time + job, but it’s at a company I truly like, and I’m getting to work on some things I have some real interest in. And it’s paying the bills, which admittedly, being a self-employed programmer wasn’t. So I admit, I’m a beginner when it comes to working in my passions. I have to admit, if I have to be a programmer, I really don’t want to be fully self-employed doing it. I’d rather save the type of energy required for self employment for something I care about much more. I guess the point is, God really knew what I needed and by admitting I’m a beginner and don’t know it all, I was able to make the choice and take this job.

Back to consistency – all this came about around the time of my last blog post, so I’ve been in the midst of major transition for the last month. I’m back to consistency now, God willing, but I’m still a beginner at that part.

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Anna & Me on our 7th anniversary

Anna & Me on our 7th anniversary

Today I wanted to say a few simple words about the best woman in the world, Anna Kristen Schulte. Today she finished her fourth half marathon. A couple years ago, she could barely do a 5k. I feel like maybe in some of my posts I’ve given the wrong impression about her, like maybe I’ve implied she’s not supportive of my dreams or just not a good wife. So I feel like I should correct that notion. Anna has stuck by me and encouraged me to keep going with self-employment. Anna has always had a life and energy I strive to have. She has eyes that dance and a heart that welcomes you in. She’s everybody’s best friend. Everybody feels her presence when she’s around and misses it when she’s not, but none more than me. A kind word from Anna is enough to keep me going for weeks. I don’t mean to say she never says anything unkind or never gets upset or unfair. She’s human. She fails. But she keeps going. She lives from her heart and always does the best she knows to do. A couple months ago she was named head worship leader at our church, and as I told her at the time, she was born for the job. She’s an amazingly gifted musician, but more than that, she really and truly leads in worship and leads the team to be better worshipers as well. She often lacks confidence, but she doesn’t quit. A couple weeks ago, I was leading worship and had one of the roughest starts I’ve ever had. If it hadn’t been for her words and encouragement and prayer, I would’ve given up. Instead, I had one of the best finishes I’ve ever had as a worship leader. I know I don’t tell her often enough, but she makes me proud to be her husband and happy to be alive. I’m looking forward to the rest of my life with her.

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I just wanted to share quickly a good example of putting heart into everyday things. This could have been mundane, but with some creativity and some heart, it turned out incredible. My brother Stephen is hosting our church’s trivia night in a couple weeks. He and his wife and my wife put together this exceptional video. I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard. Enjoy, and come join us for the Vineyard Community Church Trivia Night 2011 Saturday, April 2, from 6-9pm. It’s free!

And enjoy the video!

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Today is my 33rd birthday, so today has been a day of reflection for me. I was thinking back on how hard my 20s were - I didn't do a lot of crazy things. I guess you could say I didn't do much at all. At least I didn't do much that gave me meaning. I leased a new car at about $700/mo when you counted insurance for a 21 year old and I spent about 2 years racking up $18,000 in credit card debt. Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s been a hard day. As a self-employed software developer, I find myself having to fight off complete terror at times, wondering where the next check is coming from. Today is one of those days. I’ve been pursuing the idea of sitting in an office again for a few months while my wife and I finish our debts off.

As part of that pursuit, I interviewed with a company for a position I knew I was probably slightly underqualified for, and today I found out they’re passing on me. I guess I wouldn’t mind quite as much, but a couple reasons they gave for passing were truly illegitimate, and not just in my opinion. Honestly I wanted to cry afterward, and I guess just because I don’t know where the next check is coming from after January and I really really hate being misunderstood. So, I guess I’m using the blog to vent a bit, but I’m done with that now.

What I really wanted to say was I’m home now, working on the couch for one of my current clients, trying to wrap up a project, so I decided to put on a movie on that I can half pay attention to – something I’ve seen dozens of times already.

Thanks God for movies like Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Sometimes you just need complete nonsense, which this definitely is, but raised to a level of genius, in my humble opinion…

If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. Screen writer / director Steve Oedekerk took an old Kung-Fu film, dubbed himself into it, and made up a completely new story. Like I said, genius!

Anyway, Thank God I can laugh and stop carrying the weight of the world, if just for a little bit….

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Here's to P.I.D. Recently, I lost the ability to listen to my iPod in the car, which got me to pull out my CD collection. Yesterday, I found Back to Back, the second album by P.I.D. and truly a significant part of my early teenage life. I LOVED that tape. It was stolen at some point in my childhood, but I found it on CD a few years later. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I finally read the second half of Enter The Kettlebell (affiliate link) more carefully and figured out what I needed to be doing as a minimum to work up to the more advanced workout. Read the rest of this entry »
nk Jack White's comment here says it all - who needs to buy a guitar? Make music with what you have! Read the rest of this entry »
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