Friday, February 01, 2013

Friday in the Cube

Cube life is remarkably boring.  It's really the little things that carry us through - the random conversations, the odd overheard remarks, the random misspellings and grammatical errors.  So...yeah.

Also, I really do enjoy the people I work with - these are just funny.


In response to the brand of toothpaste I use and my toothpaste policies (p.s. I don't share toothpaste): You are living life absolutely wrong.  Just...wrong.  I can't believe you use Crest. 

A note on an unmarked sandwich in fridge: I accidentally took a bite out of your sandwich before realizing it wasn’t mine…come see me and I’ll buy you lunch! (I loved this note!  I almost wished that was my sandwich)

After someone explained to me the origin of the words “Baller” and “Ballin’” (a totally unsolicited explanation), another guy piped up: “Yeah, back in high school I tried to use the word ‘Spherein’’ and make it a thing, but sadly it never really caught on…you know, Sphereing, because a ball is a sphere.” 

Dropping a frozen dinner on a table (made a huge thud): “Doesn’t it sound delicious?!”

3 of us talking, other person jumps in: 
M:  “I’m going to have to dock one of your reviews if I hear her talking about an ‘unfinished product.’
Us:  “What?”
M:  “I heard the words unfinished something coming from over here…”
Us:  “Oh.  Well that was probably in regards to the paper snowflake.  I’m trying to get him to make a paper snowflake, but he won’t.  He punched it with a pen and then threw his unfinished product in the trash.”
M (to snowflake offender):  “Oh, well, that’s still going on your review.  For an unfinished snowflake.  I "fired" you yesterday – didn’t you learn anything?!?”  (His computer had stopped working the day before - she claims it's because she "secretly fired" him :) )

Someone over the cube wall to a passerby: Did you see me looking for you?  I was like a little groundhog, popping up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pet Peeve...

Passive-aggressive statements said out loud to no one in particular are, in my opinion, the worst.  It is a way for you to vent your feelings without confronting one person in particular, but being fairly certain that the one offender heard you and knew beyond a doubt that you were talking about them.

I think that the reason passive-aggressive behavior is so appealing is because it comes with no commitment.  What I mean is that, no matter what you say, you can pass off your statements as something you "didn't really mean," or you were "just talking to yourself," or "oh no, I meant someone totally different."  It's an easy pass but you still get to speak your mind.

Now to be honest, when "confronted" with passive-aggressiveness, my immediate tendency is to be passive-aggressive right back.  For instance, if someone says "I hate it when people don't wash their dishes," I'm like, " too..."  Now the nice thing is that if this comment was directed towards me, I can pretend like it wasn't, and then go hurriedly wash my dishes in secret and never make that mistake again.  No one will ever know, and every body wins, right?

Wrong!  I don't think there are winners in passive-aggressiveness.  I think it breeds bitterness, fosters grudges, and develops unnecessary divides in relationships.  I think it allows us to get away with murder, while only paying for frustration.  

The other day, I was printing off some papers at work.  I was printing to a different printer since my normal one was broken.  As I walked up to get my papers, a clearly frustrated individual said loudly "Aarrggg SOMEONE isn't printing to a job box!"  Now first, some clarification.  We usually print to job boxes so that our work doesn't get mixed up with others.  I did not have a job box set up to that printer since that was not my usual printer.  Hence, I was the offender, and I heard the statement.  And I knew that it was most likely directed at me, whether the individual knew it or not.  

At this point, I had two options: 1. I could have just not said anything, pretended like I did have a job box, and discreetly gather my scattered papers at a later time, or 2. I could say something and end it there.  I chose, at this moment, to say ironically, "That someone is probably me."  And then I calmly gathered my papers that the disgruntled person was tossing around, affirming the fact that it absolutely was me, and walked away. 

Thwarted!  A passive-aggressive confrontation that did not end passive aggressively.  It basically ended with the individual being exposed, putting a face to their frustrated comment.  And then effectively shutting them up, since they were embarrassed that the offender "found out" and acknowledged it.  

However, if I could do it again, I would choose a 3rd option.  I should have said "I'm sorry I haven't set up a job box on this printer yet - I know those are helpful for paper control.  I think that's my stuff that was mixed up in yours.  Thanks for dealing with it!"  Instead of being retributive and extracting justice, I should have been kind and understanding.  And that is, I believe, the only way to effectively deal with passive-aggressive behavior.

Ultimately, I think people are afraid of other people's reactions (and rightfully so...see my option 2 above...).  So, naturally, the passive-aggressive approach is the best way to be heard and yet to not ruffle too many feathers (unless, of course, the accused person chooses to respond - again, option 2).  But this does not foster a real relationship.  It makes for relationships built on little to no direct, honest communication.  This is a problem!

The only way we can fix it is by starting with ourselves.  I think that if we're willing to become humble and open, we are able to invite others into our lives honestly and openly.  This allows for people to explain hurts, offenses, anger, and pain in a safe environment, knowing that we will listen and not strike out in return.  Basically, we want to be approachable people, not stand-offish.  Once we work on this in our own hearts, we can also begin to communicate openly with other people, eliminating the need for passive-aggressive comments forever!  

This kind of relating is dangerous and involved - but it is also real.  And I would much rather have real relationships than safe ones.  

I know no one really reads this, but if you happen to by some accident stumble across this, what are your thoughts on passive-aggressive statements and their solutions?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday in the Cube

Cube life is remarkably boring.  It's really the little things that carry us through - the random conversations, the odd overheard remarks, the random misspellings and grammatical errors.  So...yeah.

Also, I really do enjoy the people I work with - these are just funny.

Received via email: Would you please provoke the detail  (note: having never provoked detail before, I'm was a little scared about what would happen) 

While riding the screeching elevator to our floor: It’s like there are a lot of little monkeys in there making it go.  Seriously, I’m going to miss this building so much.

Someone standing next to the printer: I might be done, but I’m still hangin’ out!

Someone, to me, after reading an email from a coworker: You just got thrown under the bus!  I thought you two were tight.

Discussing an email: 
E - She can’t mean the last full week of every month – the April week is the week of the 29th; there’s only two days in April that week.
M - Maybe we’re reading into too much.
E - It explicitly says the last full week.
M - I’m just saying – maybe we’re reading it too closely.
E - Right…

Thursday, January 24, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take a day off Facebook.  Not for any reason in particular...I just wanted to see how it would go.  This was, arguably, one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my 25 years of life.  I am a hardcore 21st century protege and a day without Facebook to me would be like a day without [...well, I don't really know...] for my parents.  I know that sounds stupid, but I feel so disconnected from everyone when I don't have 24-hour access to social sites.  And my smart phone doesn't help.  I no longer need a computer with internet connection - I can just hop on my 3G network and have unlimited access.

About two months ago, I decided to try a week without coffee.  This decision wasn't as hard - I had headaches and thought maybe they were caffeine-induced.  Cutting coffee seemed like a logical step.  I missed it so much I couldn't stop talking about it.  I think everyone got tired of that one and they were all happy when I went back on caffeine.  If I mess up or am in a bad mood, my coworker now asks me if I've had my coffee - he chalks a lot of stuff up to coffee-less mornings.  Um, on second thought, I might have a bigger issue than lack of caffeine...  But seriously, I still try to not drink it every day, but that one's tough.

Last year, I decided to participate in a fitness challenge, intending to carry on after the end of the challenge.  I definitely exercise more now, but nothing like what I did for those few months.  And full disclosure, when winter came around, I pretty much said forget this.  I told myself that I needed to prepare for hibernation - and that being sedentary was totally acceptable.  Don't worry, I'm over that and back at the gym, but still.

Anyway, the point to all of this is that all of these things required discipline.  They weren't easy choices to make because they meant changing or modifying a habit (or lack thereof) in my day-to-day life.  It was work.

There are two kinds of discipline.  The first I prefer to call self-discipline, or even self-control (a fruit of the Spirit).  This kind is internal and motivated by the inner person.  The second is initiated by an external person and usually involves punishment or rebuke.  The former is an action, and to Christians, the latter is a gift (Heb. 12:7-11, Ps. 94:12).

I've been musing on self-discipline lately.  It seems like I'm constantly faced with choices to make about  how to spend my time, my money, my affections, and my actions (basically I'm a grown-up).  I  can choose to be wise about my decisions, or I can choose to be foolish.  Or maybe somewhere in between.  However, I think that as a Christian, I'm called to be disciplined.

We're also called to exercise wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 17:24), but not by being "wise in our own eyes" (Proverbs 3:7).  We are to ask God to give us wisdom (especially if we lack it, James 1:5), and to believe and act accordingly.  I think this kind of wisdom leads to self-discipline, and ultimately self-control.

If you are a Christian, you have been given power over sin.  You have the choice to not sin because Christ defeated it at the cross.  That's incredible!  This means that you also have the power to practice something like the Fruit of the Spirit, including discipline/self-control.  You have the power to be humble and ask for wisdom, seeking to live a godly life.

When I think about discipline that way, it becomes more than a decision to get off Facebook for a day.  It becomes a mode of living, a pattern of choices that I'm choosing to follow.  It involves me asking not "what's the 'best' thing?" but rather "what's the wise thing?"

I'm sure this seems like an incredibly boring life to some people, but there is just something so compelling about wise Christians.  I want to become one someday.  Living a wise, disciplined life is definitely more thoughtful and careful, but it also develops a strength/steadiness of character that can endure and persevere.  My prayer, as I continue to grow in faith and grace, is that I would also grow in wisdom and discipline to be a better servant for the kingdom of God - that I would use my time, money, affections, actions, and everything else for His glory.                                       

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday in the Cube

Cube life is remarkably boring.  It's really the little things that carry us through - the random conversations, the odd overheard remarks, the random misspellings and grammatical errors.  So...yeah.

Also, I really do enjoy the people I work with - these are just funny.

Someone on the phone, presumably talking about kids and such: "Oh, I don’t have a little one.  Heeelllll no! [silence] Well, first I have to trick a girl into wanting me.”

Someone else on the phone: “I apologize that you are yelling at me.  You are calling me the rudest person you’ve ever known, but you are yelling at me.”

Grammar Policing:

I learned this week that someone was "Improperly chargered."  Also, someone wanted to process several "dispursements."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday in the Cube

Cube life is remarkably boring.  It's really the little things that carry us through - the random conversations, the odd overheard remarks, the random misspellings and grammatical errors.  So...yeah.

Also, I really enjoy the people I work with - these are just funny.


"I love it when I get credit for your work!” - a nice email I received. 

“You look wet.” - I had woken up late and my hair wasn't dry...

Someone to the printer: “It says it has removable memory.  Well, they removed my memory years ago!!”

Someone on the phone "providing" an email address: “Fin.  As in a shark fin.  [silence]  Also, there are other things that have fins, like fish, and other sharks. Do you know what a fin is?  Spell it like that.”

“Ewww, it smells like a cigar in here”

Grammar Policing: 

Attached please find 2 document:

I will look, I do not have anything, for this.

Incomming faxes

It is in the frig on 5th Floor

I will review wit [person] the different issues

Yes, [person] says it no more than 5 a week. 

Were taking they're printer.

Please distribute and while [person] is training let's see if their accurate

Are you steel taking the 28th?

I have will now also be directly receiving an email if these solutions do not run.

Please ask him if he is braking down the daily totals.

Additionally she would like to understand perk volumes times throughout the year.
    (And the correction for above: Understanding peek volumes)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Where's My Packing List?

Talk for Great Awakenings given in November, 2012.  This year's theme: Life's a Journey.  

As you’ve heard, today’s topic is “Where’s my packing list?!”  I don’t know a ton about life, but packing is one thing that I actually have some experience in!  I’ve done a fair amount of travel over the past few years, including several trips back and forth to my college in Mississippi, a few international excursions, several road trips, and countless little day trips here and there.  Packing happens to be the one thing that all my trips have in common.  However, packing is never the memorable part of the trip.  Yes, it is a necessity, but no, it’s not what I look forward to.  I think of packing like I think of doing chores.  It’s convenient and helpful in life, but not super fun.  I also don’t realize its importance until I forget to do it. Then I realize the full impact it has on my trip.  Really, the way you or I pack could make our trip super awesome or super stressful. 

I have two goals when I pack.  The first one is speed.  I hate packing, so I usually save it until the last minute.  You might say, " speedy packing really your goal, or is it just something you force yourself into because you save it for the last minute?"  My answer is Yes - Yes to both – it’s my goal and I inadvertently make it forced.  But speediness is predominately my goal because, as we’ve established, packing is not memorable.  It’s just something that must be done.  So if that’s the case, it should be as quick and concise as possible.  This usually results in me going around the room in circles – grabbing a handful of socks here, a t-shirt or two here, then circling back around to my sock drawer to grab some sunglasses, which for some reason I decided to keep there, then across to the bathroom for some travel sized containers, then back to the sock drawer, then back to the bathroom to fill the containers, etc.  It’s quick, but kind of stressful.   

My second goal is to always be prepared.  For women, there’s nothing worse than pulling in to your final destination, often feeling harried and exhausted from your travels, only to find out that you left all your underwear at home.  I mean seriously!  Underwear, for women, does not have a simple “pick up a five-pack at Walmart” fix.  There are so many different styles, sizes, and colors that it immediately becomes an hour-long hunt just to find something that will work for the duration of the trip.  (Side note: I've been told this isn't true for all maybe it's just me.  And a lot of people I know...)  When I travel, I like to make sure I have enough clothes and enough toiletries to get me through anything I might encounter.  When I fly, I inevitably pack double of everything – once in my carry-on and once in my checked luggage.  You never know when the airline is going accidentally send your luggage to Portland…Oregon.  I traveled to France in February to visit my friend, Bonnie.  On the way back, the airline managed to get my luggage to Pennsylvania, which is where I went through customs.  I actually had my bag at this point!  Then, for some inexplicable reason, they shipped it off to Portland while I continued on my merry way to Manchester, NH.  This marked the final hurrah to an extended and frustrating trip home.  Fortunately, though, I had all I needed (and more!) in my carryon, so my lost luggage did not set me back too much.  And yes, they were able to deliver it to my doorstep the next day.

As you can imagine, all of this prepared-ness easily translates into “over-packing” (which is usually accompanied with an eye-roll from others…).  I’ve had several airport experiences where I’ve packed all but the kitchen sink in my carry-ons.  This is fine when I’m travelling with people, but usually I’m traveling alone and don’t have the benefit of a travel buddy.  This means that every time I have to go to the bathroom in between flights, I have to carry everything into the stall with me – I can’t leave it all unattended at the gate (because I pay careful attention to all security threat advisements that come over the PA system).  By the time make it to the nearest bathroom and finally get the stall door closed around my gigantic backpack, three other people behind me have already peed and left.  But I haven’t even started.  My next step (once I get the door closed) is to figure out what to put on the disgusting floor, since all the coat hooks are missing (naturally).  Then once I figure out my base (usually the part of the backpack that I don’t have to touch), I pile everything else precariously on top, trying to make sure nothing falls.  Then, once that’s complete, I have to somehow maneuver around the pile in order to get to the toilet seat.  By this time, I’m exhausted and I end up just sitting on the toilet for forever.  Whoops.  And then it starts all over again when I’m done and need to exit the stall.  At this point, I swear off flying and decide to just travel by car.  The reality is, I should have thought through how to pack what I actually need – not what I might potentially need.  The point to all of this?  It’s good to be prepared, but packing the kitchen sink is not necessary.

So speed and “always be prepared” are my two packing goals.  If I were to add a third goal to my packing (and honestly, a third goal might be wise), it would be efficiency.  When I say efficiency, I mean streamlining the packing process: making lists, planning ahead, and not wasting time or space.  Usually, I sacrifice efficiency for speed – not because the two are mutually exclusive, but because I’m too lazy to put in the extra effort.  Although it seems pretty obvious that if I were to put the effort in here, I would have a higher success rate of speed and preparedness.  For me, the extra effort would be to create a list, which would take into account length of travel, weather of my destination (should I pack summer or winter clothes?), and mode of travel (am I restricted by airline rules?).  Taking this extra step would still enable packing to happen last minute, but it would streamline the process and would enable a better prepared-ness for the entire trip.  Here’s my packing tip of the day: I would highly recommend making lists.  It’s an easy and quick way to organize.  If you make a list, save it, either on a piece of paper or on the computer, for later trips.  Likewise, if you’re on a trip and find yourself saying “Oh darn it…I wish I had brought [fill in the blank],” write it down and then add it to the list when you return home.  When you do return home and start unpacking, look for items that you didn’t touch on the trip.  Remove those from your packing list if it’s not a necessary item.  That way, the next time you travel, you’ll have a greater likelihood of packing all the right things!

Every year our church takes the youth group on a huge camping trip in July.  We call it the Youth Retreat.  I’ve been going on the Youth Retreat every year now since I was going into 7th grade.  It’s pretty easy camping.  We have access to a bathhouse, we bring several campers and good tents, and we do what we can to make it enjoyable and semi-comfortable.  However, every year I mentally add more to the “I wish I had brought…” list, hoping that the next year I would have finally packed everything I need.  This list has included things like extra sweatshirts, water shoes, plastic bags for wet clothes, plastic bags for dry clothes (so they don’t get wet), extra towels for when everything I own is soaked, a car so that I can keep things dry, etc. (we tend to get wets on these trips…).  So far, the only thing I’ve taken off this list is a deck of cards, because those are also soaked and unusable by the end of the week.        

Well…talking about packing is great and all, but now we come to the big question: what in the world does this have to do with life?  How does any of this translate into my personal, every-day life?

Last month, Kim explained to us that we’re on one big journey called life.  This journey that we’re on is planned and led by God.  He is directing our steps.  We learned that everything comes from Him, even the hard things.  It’s a little surprising, then, to find out that we actually need to “pack,” or prepare, for this journey.  But it’s true, we can’t just expect to do nothing and get through.   

The first thing we need for our life-journey is faith.  It’s like a passport or a driver’s license.  If you try to go somewhere without proper identification, there are immediate consequences that hinder your travels.  There’s a fine just for driving without your license. Faith is the same way in life.  It’s super important.  Without it, we’re not really following a purpose or a path. 

Some of you might be wondering, what does “faith” even mean?  And does faith in anything I feel like count?  This is where the Bible is helpful.  Hebrews 11:1-3 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”  What are the things hoped for and convictions unseen?  They are the hope of salvation and eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Faith is believing the promises of God.  Faith is believing that the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, lived as a man, was crucified on the cross, and rose again on the third day, all so that I could be saved from my sins.  And the cool thing is, faith is a gift from God.  We just have to ask!  Once we grasp this, once we believe this, all the rest [other packing items] follows. 

Faith, for me, came a fairly young age.  I was about 12 when I first believed that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sin.  Faith totally changed my outlook on life.  Before it, I was hoping in myself and was relying on my own self-sufficiency to get through life.  I believed that I was invincible.  This belief of mine was disproved every single day...from paper cuts to grades, from lost arguments to poor life choices.  But I still thought that I could take care of myself.  Fortunately, I can stand here and say that it’s amazing to not have to rely on me any more!  It’s not always been easy trusting in God the past several years, but it’s always been worthwhile.  I always know that God is with me through everything, and that He has promised eternal life.  And now I can have hope in something bigger than me!  Living with the hope of eternity puts every day life into perspective.  Knowing that I’m living for something important makes the time I have on earth extra special.    

So after we pack faith, which is a gift from God, there are some other things that we should look to add.  The Bible has two very helpful passages that help us understand what the rest of our life packing list should look like.  The first passage comes from Galatians 5:22-23.  This is commonly referred to as the “Fruit of the Spirit.”  It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  Those sounds great!  But how are we supposed to pack them?  They seem like elusive characteristics that can be hard to pin down.  And they certainly are not constant in our day-to-day lives – well, at least not in mine.  If I was practicing patience every moment of everyday, I’m pretty sure my morning road trips into work would not contain so much anger and frustration towards other drivers on the road.  My immediate conclusion for almost every other driver is “obviously that person has no idea how to drive.”  Obviously I should practice patience more often.     

How should I use patience when I drive?  How can we access the Fruit of the Spirit?  Sometimes, time Bible uses the term “put on” when referring to the Fruit of the Spirit.  Colossians 3:12 says, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  And then in verse 14, it continues, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”  Now we’re getting closer to understanding.  “Put on” is an action that we can follow. 

There comes a point where most analogies break down – I think comparing packing for a trip to packing for real life breaks down here.  You see, after all this talk about packing, in life we can’t really pack for ourselves.  We can’t put on the love, just like that.  We can’t chose to “put on” compassionate hearts and humility, like Colossians 3 is commanding.  We are only able to access these things through Christ and His saving grace that comes to us through faith, which, as we found out earlier, is a gift from God.  I wasn’t kidding when I said faith is the most important.  Christ is really the only one who can give us the power to do all of these beautiful things.

Some of you might be saying, well, I have faith, but the rest seems to be missing!  I would say, you’re off to a good start!  But if you have true faith, it means that you have the power to practice things like kindness and humility.  It’s not unattainable.  It doesn’t mean that this is always our default mode (hence the “putting on”).  If we go back to our trip analogy, we don’t use everything we pack all at once. But it is all available to us – it’s all accessible.  In life with faith, this means that you can access, or put-on, the “Fruit of the Spirit” at any time and you can actually choose to pull out a little love or unroll a little gentleness in any situation – you’re not stuck without it.  This is a great kind of power.  Use it!

Others of you might be saying, uh-oh…I don’t even have faith!  Well, I’m so glad we’re talking about it this morning!  If you’re interested, find someone here to connect with and maybe meet a few times over coffee.  It’s totally worth pursuing.  Find people at your table who have true faith – I know they like to talk about it.

Some of you might be like, I totally have this all down.  Next?  Well if that's really true, to you I say, teach me – teach us!  I want to become more of all these things, and I know others wish the same.  Just let me know when I can get coffee with you!

Finally, some of you (like myself) might be somewhere in between.  If I can take us back to packing for a moment…I’m not always a careful or thoughtful or prepared packer…when I was in 9th grade on a missions trip to Cambodia, I was going through security at an airport.  I had forgotten to pack my nail scissors in my checked luggage, so I was trying to carry them on.  As my bag went through the scanning belt, the alert went off signifying that something was wrong.  I was pretty young back then, and I didn’t like being in the spotlight.  But I was pulled aside as my bag was searched, and I think they even did a pat down in front of everyone.  They finally found the scissors and confiscated them.  For some reason, they didn’t have a problem with all the other sharp pointy objects in the nail kit – it was just the scissors.  They gave my bag back to me and sent me on my way.  I had barely held it together until then.  I was terrified and humiliated.  As soon as I started walking down the jet way, I burst into tears.  Fortunately, I was traveling with other people and they consoled me.  But needless to say, I learned my lesson and I’ve since been incredibly careful about how I pack my carry-ons.  I’ve definitely grown in all my packing abilities over the years.  And I think the same thing happens in life.  As you go through experiences, you learn from them.  You learn how to better use the Fruit of the Spirit at all times.  You’re constantly growing and moving in life – it’s not a stagnant experience.  So be encouraged if you’re in between.  There’s always room to grow, but it might be fun to look back once in awhile and see how far you’ve come.   

Whether you haven’t started this life journey yet or if you’re several years down the road, know that Christ is always there, ready and willing to give us faith and the power to access and put on the Fruit of the Spirit.  Just remember – the way you pack will make your trip either super awesome or super not awesome.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Everyone is better than me at something, I guarantee

Mediocrity is paralyzing.  That combined with the fact that there really is nothing new under the sun (even Solomon was saying that all the way back in Ecclesiastes) really makes me pause and question the point of trying to learn something - or the point of doing anything, really.  I'm guessing I'm not the first person who's thought about this.

First, mediocrity.  I am a jack-of-all-trades.  However, I have not mastered even a one.  And really, I'm not even a jack-of-all-trades.  I'm more of an amateur of many select "trades" that I wish I had real talent in.  For instance, I've toyed with the idea of writing a book.  Then I remember, I have friends who are actually writing books and who are phenomenal writers to begin with.  I would love to sing professionally.  But oh wait, I have friends who do that, too.  And they have actually devoted time to learning how.  I've thought about acting, studying medicine, journalism, sports, cooking, event planning, dancing, designing, etc.  But I have friends who do all of those things professionally and with class.  I don't measure up.  It's not really that my friends can do these things well - I am actually super excited for them and can't wait to see how God will use and already has used them in their fields.  No, it's the fact that they were all motivated to pick one thing and stick to it for years and years and years.  I was not wise enough to do that.  I dabbled in things here and there, just picking up what I felt like.  I'm not one of those geniuses, though, who can pick something up in a day, become a pro, and then move onto the next thing.  Nope.  I am a true dabbler who becomes mediocre in many areas.  The list of things that I can do sounds impressive when I say it...but it's the skill level that is lacking.  Sure I can sing, but you wouldn't want to hire me for a wedding.  I can definitely play soccer, but I only developed the defensive skills to play on the right side of the field.  I can design a simple web site, but you would get bored after clicking on the one hyperlink that is slightly off-center in the middle of the page.  The result of this is that I have no idea what to pursue next.  Do I pick something that I've already done and work on that skill?  Or do I start something new, and become an amateur of yet another thing?

Second, there is literally nothing new under the sun.  The "new atheism"?  Nope, Paul dealt with that in Acts.  Postmodernism?  Not really - it was also seen in the early Roman Empire.  New book ideas?  New songs?  New moves?  No, no, no.  Now these might be cleverly packaged, or spun fresh, but it's not new.  The book might have different characters in a different setting, but the plot and storyline are eerily familiar.  The song might be mixed differently, but really it's this guitar riff plus that vocalization plus the other cello line.  This definitely isn't bad, it's just a fact.  In a way, I'm glad that this is the case, especially with things like philosophies.  It means that I don't have to come up with a new way to respond to it - I can simply look through history and choose accordingly.  On the other hand, though, when I think I'm being creative and then realize that what I'm doing is exactly what Joe Smith did fifty years ago in another random country, I get a little bummed out.

So what's the point?  (An excellent question.)  Well, these musings are all pointing to an overarching question that really drives my thought process - Just what is my purpose in life?  If my purpose was grounded in something that I've accomplished or something that I've come up with, obviously (based on my mediocrity) it would be split about 50 ways and randomly stuck in different piles of stuff that I call my life.  And the pieces wouldn't be grounded, they would be swimming about aimlessly.  That's a mess.  And not worth living for.

Fortunately, though, I'm not left to rely on myself for my sense of purpose.  Because Christ came to earth, died on the cross, and rose again for me, He has given me the only reason to live...which is to glorify Him and preach His name.  So in a sense, it doesn't matter what I'm good at or what I do, so long as it is done in a way that glorifies God and proclaims the gospel.  And included in God's ultimate purpose for me (which is for Him) is a carefully chosen plan that He has designed.  So not only do I know my purpose, but I also know that God is here, with me and showing me every step of the way.  And the reason I chose to follow God's purpose for me is because it is the only way that leads to eternal life.  (A lot more went into that decision, like the fact that I am a vile sinner, and the fact that only Jesus can wash away my sin, and the fact that...well, you get the picture.  But that is for a different story.)  The point is, I'm living for eternity, even in spite of my paltriness exhibited here on earth.  

That doesn't totally assuage the lack skill I feel in my life, or the aimlessness that sometimes bears upon me.  However, it does give me a hope for the time I am given.  I don't have anything better than anyone else.  In fact, I'm convinced that everybody has at least one thing, skill or otherwise, that is better that something that I have.  But I have Christ and an eternity with Him to look forward to, which is the driving force behind my life.              

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm so 3000 and 8, you so 2000 and late

Apparently something dramatic happened in 2008, because that is when most of my friends in the blogging world stopped updating their blogs. And although I didn't know it at the time, I was simply following the trend. Today as I went through my links to friends' pages, I discovered that some of the links are not even working anymore (don't worry I got rid of those). Except for the faithful few, my tiny blogging world had become virtually obsolete. But with the addition of my sister to the blogosphere (check out Confluence), I decided that blogging should become a "thing" again. Therefore, I write to you, oh internet, and once again put my thoughts out for all to read. But, since I don't have any thoughts of my own at the moment, I thought I would share with you someone else's thoughts.

Lately I've been struck by the Puritans and their intense devotion to studying the Word of God. The book "The Valley of Vision" is a collection of their prayers that were the fruit of hours of studying and meditating on the Scripture. In a prayer titled Continual Repentance, the last stanza is a plea:
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

Yesterday, we had a women's conference at our church. One of the seminars I attended was about being a servant. This prayer is perfect because if it is answered (and it is by God's grace), then we have the ability to serve humbly and to the glory of God. One of the points of the seminar is that a servant knows who they are. This includes knowing the depth of sin/our standing before God, the glory of Christ, and really everything in between. Another point is that being a servant demands continual repentance. Finally, being a servant means following our ultimate example, Jesus Christ himself. Though I'm positive the Puritans were not perfect, they definitely had a much better grasp on this concept than I do.

Anyway, here is my comeback attempt. We'll see how long it lasts ;-)