Category: Thoughts


There will be so much more evil in the world that the love of most […] will grow cold.” (Matt 24:12)

This subject has occupied my mind for the last several years. With recent events (public and private) I finally decided I should write about it. I am loathe to begin this post with this verse, simply for the concern readers will view this topic in a religious light. That’s not my intention. In fact, the issue of cold love is so big, this verse merely serves as anchor to provide context. Usually when the verse is read, it invokes thoughts of religious ardor, cooled by worldly cares. Maybe that’s a part of it, but I hardly think that to be the true message of the text.

It’s no secret that the world around us has grown increasingly violent. I needn’t expand on the recent cases of abuse, torture, murder and mass shootings that have made national headlines. Suffice it to say that events that could not have been conceived of even 20 years ago are now constant fears in the minds of many.

What I do want to address is how this has affected us. Consider the reaction to that terrible day at Columbine High School? The national state of grief and mourning? Compared to several more recent events, our reactions pale in comparison.

It is not to say that we simply do not care. Not by a long shot. We have been toughened. Calloused. The frequency of such awful events have changed our response. Why? It is the high cost of caring, which would bankrupt us emotionally if we were to allow our hearts to bleed for one another.

The reality is that the effects come with a price. What limits our pain also limits our joy. When we cauterize ourselves to tears, we lose the ability to rejoice. If I don’t love you enough to cry with you, I cannot love you enough to enjoy all the moments that make life worth the trouble. The truth is what protects us also imprisons us, cheapening our daily lives. Unchecked, we put ourselves in danger of feeling nothing at all, which may be the deepest depravity.

I write not because I have a solution, or any wisdom on the subject, save to say that I know how easy it is to simply turn the feelings off. In light of all the terrible stuff we see and hear daily, it feels like the better option. My aim is just to encourage you, reader, not to give in to that temptation, at least not as often as it calls to you.

Aside from opposable thumbs, love is one of the few things that separate us from most other creatures on Earth. It costs us something. Don’t give it up that easily.

So, yesterday marked the 30-Year anniversary for The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars episode V (or 2, if you’re using original numbers).

That, combined with my general geekiness & the news today that several social media sites were busted for sharing private data with advertisers without user consent (that’s a no-no, FB), got me thinking.

For those who’ve seen TESB, you’ll remember a pivotal place turned out to be Cloud City. This is where Han and Leia take the M. Falcon for emergency repairs and safe harbor from the empire,  meeting up with Lando, Han’s old buddy who actually runs the entire community (well played, George, well played).

Cloud city is a mining community (mining for what? who really knows. it’s a city in the clouds.), who thus far has remained outside of the empire’s scope of vision and off the radar. They enjoy freedom and can conduct business without harassment.

As you know, Han and Lei arrive, only to be betrayed by Lando and ambushed by Darth Vader & friends.

Lando’s response to all this is “I’m sorry, Han. They beat you here and threatened to take over our community. I had no choice.”

Originally, Lando’s agreement with Vader was simple: noone would be hurt, and they would leave without incident. Gradually, the agreement began to change, once Vader was meeting his objectives, and of course, the deal kept getting worse for everyone else. To save Han, Lando rebels and calls for an immediate and total evacuation of cloud city.

Ultimately, it was better to leave the cloud entirely, than to put up with the system’s manipulation of it.

And so we arrive at the point: to really get the most out of the web and “mine” the communities for information relevant to our needs (be it artistic and creative or simply understanding what the consumers want), you need to be in it.

Otherwise, if you blow in like the empire and try to artificially colonize and pirate such information, you risk damaging the community that could have otherwise helped you meet your goal.

Privacy policies, EULAs, Terms of Use, and general advertising practices could really use to keep that point in mind.

Just an observation.

Some time ago Destiny Image did a bit of a Strengthsfinder bonanza. Many of us got a copy of the book and took the test. The test is about 15-30 minutes long and asks a series of questions to determine what you’re good at (novel idea, as opposed to exposing your weaknesses), as evidenced by your resulting “Top 5 Strengths”.

When I got my results, they were very accurate. It was almost scary that my personality and thoughts could be summed up so well by a test (even if it did take them many years of research to come up with it).

More than that, the test confirmed something I’d always felt: I have conventionally antithetical traits.

My Top Five: Ideation, Restorative, Futuristic, Analytical, Deliberative.

They usually don’t co-exist peacefully, especially not in the same person. Essentially, my more right-brained qualities of ideation (ideas) and futuristic (vision) fight with my more left-brained qualities of restorative (problem-solving), analytical, and deliberative (decision-making).

In trying to bring order to these warring mental factions, I learned something important: due to the disparity between these qualities, I’ve been trying to process ideas, concepts, and beliefs through all 5 of these filters, trying to be the ideator, visionary, decision-maker, data-analyzer, and problem-solver of all my own stuff.

It’s just not possible. I’ve come to realize that I’ve been trying to complete myself through my own skills. Skills are never meant to all serve us in the same way. We may use them to solve our problems, but none of them can really be effective for all of our personal needs because we’re usually too close to an issue. Even if we have a particular skill, it doesn’t mean we can use it to meet my our own need. A surgeon may be great at what she does, but she can’t operate on herself. She needs another surgeon. Likewise, I may have restorative (problem-solver) traits, but I’ll probably need another person with that skill to help me because  my objectivity is impaired for that issue.

Now that I know, the next problem to solve is to learn exactly how to stop doing it, and recognize when I need someone else to complete me.

I guess this is just another way that God is using to take down my self-sufficiency. 🙂

Coconut Candy

I love coconut bon-bons.

I first discovered them by surprise when my mother received a box of candy as a present and kindly chose to share with her children. More likely, she knew we would take it anyway, and she wisely chose to pre-empt our thievery.
Being a 7-year-old who was dazzled by the wealth of chocolate, I immediately began to snipe at a couple of the fancier-looking molded candies. Those were good, but mostly plain milk chocolate. Not exactly my favorite. As my last selection I grabbed a plain-looking dusky brown blob from the corner of the box. My first coconut bon-bon. Delicious.

Hurriedly inspecting the rather lousy candy map included with the box, I realized this was the only one I was going to get. They only put one in.

That’s when I learned to always look for those first.
I think that some people in life are like the lone coconut bon-bon in the candy box: settled in the corner, not shiny or molded like the other candies are, they’re the only ones worth navigating the map of the candy box to find.
And on the inside, they’re nutty. 🙂

Brides and Grooms

I love weddings. I often work weddings, helping my husband video them and I still love weddings. I guess it is part of the girl-thing of enjoying a great formal party, but it’s also about the magnitude of celebrating the choosing of a life partner. Which to me is pretty cool.

On the other hand, one of the most heartbreaking things you can experience is a wedding at which it is immediately apparent, for whatever reason, that the couple marrying is not truly happy.

We’ve only worked at one wedding when we’ve had that feeling. Matt’s business has been remarkably blessed with truly great customers with whom we’ve been able to share joy.

But, this past weekend I got a call from my sister telling me that she is engaged.

You can imagine that all of the weddings I’ve ever attended as a guest or vendor came flooding into my mind. But this time it will be different. It won’t be a customer’s wedding, it won’t be a friend’s wedding, it won’t even be my wedding, it will be my little sister’s wedding.

That makes me feel so many things.

What wisdom do you give? What do you hold back and let her learn first-hand?

How much bodily harm do you threaten the groom with?

I love weddings; and, aside from my own, this one will matter the most to me.

I can take many things, but the thought of a man I’ve never met holding my sister’s happiness in his hands is terrifying. I can only imagine how overwhelming this will feel when it’s actually my child.

Kudos to everyone who has actually handled that well. Even if I have 25 years to prepare for it, there’s still the strong possibility that I will be a basket case.

You Are Here

It’d be nice if life had a big matrix like the mall does.

Want some new shoes? Go Left.
Want happiness eternal? Upstairs.
Need financial security? Go Right.
General Tso’s Chicken? Food Court.

More importantly, though, it would be nicer to see the little red dot that shows “You Are Here.”

Most of the time life seems like a continual evolution in high-speed: every time you begin to see something taking shape, it begins another morph into something new and even more complex. It’s reminiscent of the X-Men movies with all of the growing “mutants” at Xavier’s school; they didn’t understand what they were nor what they were capable of. It isn’t as if any of them were really going to end up as circus freaks by the end of the trilogy, but they really didn’t know where they were as opposed to where they wanted to be.

It seems like a little much to ask, life is uncertainty, not an endless, totally predictable production cycle.

My problem is that I tend to throw blinders on and say “I won’t  _____ until ______.” But if you do that enough, you end up not living at all. Ask me how I know.

So, while a huge map of life would be nice, I guess I should be more concerned with what’s in clear view around me. What’s true in all great malls, can be true in life: just keep walking, and you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for. Which for me, right now, is General Tso’s chicken. 😉

Valentine's Day

This week I was discussing dinner plans with my loving husband, Matt. As I’m from the south, I had a “hankerin” for catfish. Once decided, my husband got a gleam in his eye, one usually present when one has a stroke of pure genius (which is different, I’m told, from when one just has a stroke).

He looked at me with a giddy smile and said “I know what I could get you for Valentine’s Day!…A fryer!” He anxiously awaited my response.

Tenderly I thanked him, and explained that while I did not have a fryer, that’s almost the same as getting a vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day. Though it is true that a fryer has distinct benefits that a vacuum does not: excellent fried chicken and fish.

And, truthfully speaking, I should be glad that he’s offering: it shows he’s listening and that he’s not afraid to introduce more fat into my diet…I suppose that’s some form of flattery…somewhere. 🙂 He was truly excited and just so darn cute about the whole thing, I couldn’t do the wife thing and get mad.

Any way, the end of the story is that he personally delivered a bouquet of red and white roses to me today along with a carton of Jones brand Green Apple soda…He’s very sweet. 🙂

Based on these events, I’ve decided to make a list of items not to get your wife (or husband, for that matter) for Valentine’s Day. I know there are folks out there who could probably get some of these items and thus turn V-Day into D-Day. Consider this a warning flare.

  • A deep-fat fryer.
  • A vacuum cleaner or other cleaning device.
  • A toaster.
  • Any cleaning agent of any kind, I don’t care how convincing that bearded guy on TV is. Oxi Clean does not a happy marriage make.
  • Anything diet or fitness related (Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!)
  • Any piece of lawn equipment that doesn’t have a cup holder attached.
  • Any hair removal system. Again, it doesn’t matter how convincing that bearded lady on TV is…
  • A self-help book.
  • Flowers that smell like anything other than flowers.

Expanding The Rickroll Franchise

or, “Of Memes and Men. Very Annoying Singing Men.”

As defined by Wikipedia, Rickrolling is an Internet Meme typically involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up“. The meme is a bait and switch: a person provides a Web link that he or she claims is relevant to the topic at hand, but the link actually takes the user to the Astley video. The URL can be masked or obfuscated in some manner so that the user cannot determine the true source of the link without clicking. When a person clicks on the link and is led to the web page, he or she is said to have been “Rickrolled” (also spelled Rickroll’d).

Having been recently Rickroll’d, I found myself thinking, there must be a better way to excecute this concept.

Therefore, I’ve provided a list of possibilities which would add diversity to the Rickroll franchise:

Replace desired YouTube video with that of the 90’s TV show, California Dreams, and you’ve just been California Roll’d.

Replace desired YouTube video with clip of British comedy series, Trigger Happy TV, and you’ve just been (Dom) JolyRoll’d.

Replace video with a commercial for Haas Avocados, and you’ve been AvocadoRoll’d.

Perhaps the best option for further YouTube domination is by utilizing a Smuckers television commercial, resulting in the end-user becoming JellyRoll’d.

Yes, I did. Ronda loaned me her copy.

It is a great movie. I, the tearless wonder, was almost able to hold it together until Mr. Magorium died. Gosh it was sad.

I’ve had too many people pass on/move on from my life and have realized I have a substantial wall of my mind occupied with pictures of people I’m afraid will die before I am ready to let them go.  As if I have influence in the matter.

As if I’m ever going to be ready to let any of them go. “Ok, I’m done, you can die now.” Yeah, that’s stupid. Ah, mortality bites.

Books and the Future

 

 “When you write, you live forever.” Be it good or bad, right or wrong, it will live on.

It stands to reason that just as the writings of Moses, Isaiah, Paul the apostle, and John Wesley live on, we have the opportunity to leave that great of a mark on the world.

I was thinking about our books in that way: what we are producing today will carry on.

Then, it’s a huge thing to realize that in 50, 200, or even 2000 years, people may hold up a book we published and use it to answer a question or even shape doctrine.

We are publishing “epistles” to the world. Talk about scary.

Paul said we should be living epistles (2 Cor. 3:3), so it’s only logical we should be writing them. J