off to vacation wonderland
Wednesday July 26th 2006, 12:45 pm
Filed under: personal, family

me and my family fly to beeeeautiful detroit, michigan today (city motto: “the perfect place for a family vacation, or a murder, or political corruption, or for making cars!”) for an almost-two week vacation (that’s ‘holiday’ for my UK friends). we’re attending the wedding of a good friend (rolly richert) this saturday night, and my cousin the second weekend (up in truly beautiful northern michigan — harbor springs). all my family and all jeannie’s family are in the detroit area, so we’ll do a lot of catching up.

our first three days are with my in-laws, and there is no internet, no email, no nothin’. so i’ll be taking daily trips to the nearby starbucks for wifi.

child-like living
Tuesday July 25th 2006, 3:11 pm
Filed under: faith

“i am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,
“each morning i am something new:
i am apple, i am plum, i am just as excited
as the boys who made the hallowe’en bang:
i am tree, i am cat, i am blossom too:
when i like, if i like, i can be someone new,
someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
i can be someone else whenever i think who,
and i want to be everything sometimes too:

but i don’t tell the grown-ups; because it is sad,
and i want them to laugh just like i do
because they grew up and forgot what they knew
and they are sure i will forget it some day too.
they are wrong. they are wrong. when i sang my song, i knew, i knew!
i am red, i am gold, i am green, i am blue,
i will always be me, i will always be new!”

–delmore schwartz (quoted in , by kay redfield jamison)

i wonder…
Tuesday July 25th 2006, 11:57 am
Filed under: personal, thinking..., humor

we’re doing some re-furnishing of our family room right now. i wonder if this would fit, in time for the new season of 24…

the coolest kite
Monday July 24th 2006, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

it took me a second looking at these pictures to figure out what the kite was in the photos! the computer pointer kite turns photos into a bit of performance art. what a kick. look closely at the photos, you can see the kite strings. sure, you could just photoshop in a big cursor on your pics — but having it be real is somehow more fun.

time for a swim!
Monday July 24th 2006, 12:57 pm
Filed under: humor

just in time for that dive into the summer camp pond, comes this

receiving feedback
Monday July 24th 2006, 9:49 am
Filed under: faith, personal

on our exec team retreat this past week, we filled out and shared a variety of really helpful handouts. there was certainly value in my writing responses to the questions. but the greater value was in hearing the other team members share their responses. after talking about our own personal commitments (to ourselves) and what we’ve been learning and how we’ve been growing, we moved into a time of writing, then expressing, individualized commitments to one another. this was a pretty emotion-choked and vulnerable time for all of us, as you can imagine, as we spoke into what we know about each other, and what had been expressed in the first 24 hours of the retreat.

following all that, we went into a time of talking about and learning about giving and receiving feedback (especially difficult feedback). it was fantastic. but to get things going, we filled out another worksheet (my soundtrack while filling out this one: arctic monkeys).

again, in a spirit of vulnerability and accountability, here’s what i wrote:

[the header on the worksheet said: the feedback from the people around us is the best learning material we can ever have. sometimes, however, we fear the change we will experience if we remain open enough to really hear what others have to say.

what feeback do you want to hear?
i used to need to hear (or desire to hear) feedback about my stengths and skills. but our team has done such a great job of that in the past couple years i’m sensing that need subsiding. now, i want to hear how my insights or ideas have impacted people; and i want to receive feedback on changes people are observing in me.

i want to hear when people think i’m doing the things i don’t want to do — like manipulate or control or come off as arrogant.

what do you block out or not want to hear?
character accusations, and anything i would interpret as questioning my loyalty or honesty or motives.

who do you not like getting feedback from?
[i named a few people here that i struggle with getting feedback from, and why, but can’t expose that here. i also wrote…]
i don’t like feedback from people from whom i perceive there’s a hidden motive or agenda in the giving.

why have you chosen to ignore this feedback?
i tend to devalue this kind of input or feedback because i think it’s “tainted” in nature, and that, at least partially, invalidates it.

what would happen if you opened yourself up to receive it?
i would likely obsess on the mixture of partial truth and mixed motives, and vascilate between dismissiveness, passive-aggressive counter-attack, and feeling wounded (played out in self-pity). i might also get to the point where i learn something from it.

after, in-between, in front of
Sunday July 23rd 2006, 7:05 pm
Filed under: personal

i’m now past…

final edit on the MY FAITH and MY FAMILY books for middle school kids

preaching a two-weekend series at my church

a great sunday afternoon nap

i’m in the midst of…

continued ridiculous temperatures. it was 111 degrees in east county san diego yesterday. it was the first night of the year we left our air conditioning on all night. i’m nervous to see the electricity bill.

trying to keep my pool clean in these temperatures. it’s a tad green right now, and i need to work on it, but it’s too ugly-hot outside.

summer travels. much done, a big wad to come, starting this wednesday.

playing catch-up at work. my email ‘inbox’ (where i keep anything still needing attention) has been hovering around 120. i breathe easier when it’s around 30.

my radar has just registered the existence of…

three long trips back-t0-back-to-back, starting wednesday: a 2-week family trip to detroit (mostly vacation, attending a family wedding), followed by the LA portion of DCLA, followed by 10 days in england (speaking a couple times for youth workers at soulsurvivor, then spending a few days in london with my daughter).

two whole beautiful days in the office (monday and tuesday) with very few appointments — a great chance to catch up.

our fall conventions are suddenly just around the corner. last year at this point, i already knew what i was going to talk about in the closing session. this time, i have no idea.

what am i learning?
Saturday July 22nd 2006, 2:16 pm
Filed under: faith, personal

on our ys exec team retreat this week, our good friend and consultant mark dowds led us through a variety of self-learning, self-disclosing and team building exercises that culminated in a time of learning and practicing how to give difficult feedback. the first worksheet and sharing time centered around each of our commitments to ourselves — which was so interesting to hear from each other. in knowing, for example, tic long’s personal commitments to himself, i am able to work alongside him in a hope of supporting those commitments.

our second phase involved filling out a worksheet (my soundtrack while i filled it out: system of a down) on what each of us is learning, how we’re growing, what we’re experimenting with, and what we’re discovering. again, the listening to others was way more valuable than my own writing time.

but in a spirit of vulnerability and accountability, here’s what i wrote:

i’m learning the value of disciplined and wide voracious reading on my ability to see creative cross-grain solutions and ideas, and on spotting systems and pattern recognition.

i’m learning to assess the myriad ways empowerment and freedom are defined for different people.

i’m growing in my understanding of how to use my stengths for good, not just to use my strenths. in other words, i’m growing in my understanding of the good and bad ways my strengths can be played out, particularly in terms of one-on-one relationships and interactions.

i’m growing in my reliance on other people.

i’m experimenting with the tension between appropriate compliance and appropriate resistance.

i’m experimenting with the implications of the theological assumptions i’ve held all my life and how they do or don’t line up with jesus.

i’m experimenting with the role of quarterly silent retreats in my life.

i’m discovering the counter-intuitive power that resides in true humility.

i’m discovering more of my weaknesses and blindspots.

i’m discovering the value of shutting up and asking forgiveness even when i’m barely wrong, but have hurt someone.

the perfect sermon illustration (almost)
Saturday July 22nd 2006, 2:16 pm
Filed under: humor

July 3, 2006 (UPI) - A young man was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from college. While he was walking through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed so the man approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant’s foot. There was a large thorn deeply embedded in the bottom of the foot.

As carefully and as gently as he could he worked the thorn out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen–thinking of nothing else but being trampled.

Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away.

The man never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later the man was walking through the zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to where they were standing at the rail. The large bull elephant stared at him and lifted it’s front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times, all the while staring at the man. The man couldn’t help wondering if this was the same elephant.

After a while it trumpeted loudly; then it continued to stare at him.

The man summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man’s legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.

Probably wasn’t the same elephant.

(ht to mikey)

headline of the day, so far
Friday July 21st 2006, 11:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

certainly, this has to be one of the most confusing and odd crime ledger headlines i’ve ever seen:

Police arrest naked man after he flails car with a stolen pigeon

(ht to dave barry)

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