Blogging Challenge Day #5

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Though back in the States, I was informed that it’s more than a month’s wait for internet intallation in my new residence!  Things have gone downhill big time since I left 2 years ago!  Anyway, onward and upward.  Here’s the 5th challenge:

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

I have traveled quite a bit for someone my age.  A month in China, 2 years in France, 3 months in Morocco, visits to Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa!  And I don’t have a dream spot, in the sense of a beautiful place that I hope to see someday.  In other words, there is no bucket list on which I keep future dream vacation spots listed.  But, two things have come to mind when thinking about this challenge. I wanted to share about the first which is the fact that I really long for an extended time in nature.

Now, I’m now grizzly Adams or Dick Proenenke from Alone in the Wilderness books and DVDs which I love.  I’m not talking about roughing it, but being comfortable in the midst of it.  Comfortable in two senses.  First, I’m a cabin guy, preferably with A/C and running water!  I want enough physical “comfort” to keep any discomfort from getting in the way of the other sense of being comfortable in the middle of nowhere; namely, comfortable with solitude and silence and the drummings of my own mind.  I want to be comfortable with no wifi and no cellphone…no laptop, no DVDs, and no OnDemand.  I want to be comfortable with the sludge that comes to the surface in my heart and soul when there is nothing else left to distract me from it.  I want to be comfortable with a day where a book and animals passing by is my only entertainment, a day where I’m not allowed to go find something to do, unless it involves dirt, trees, animals, grass, fields, flowers, and sky.

I don’t want these things now.  What I mean is that this is a desire that has been born in me and is growing, but I know that now isn’t the right time.  Not in the sense that I have too much to do, but more in a season of life, mysterious “your not ready” yet kind of way.

Blogging Challenge Day #4

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Well, I have taken a break to visit my family after 2 years outside of the U.S. and now we are neck deep in boxes and moving into a new apartment, but I thought I shouldn’t all any further behind than I have.  Of course, I have just read the challenge and realized that it is supposed to take me 48 hours to complete!  Despite the instructions, I will try to just answer the question on the fly.  You can read it for yourself here.  Once again I feel like the challenge misses the main point of the quote introducing it.  I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps the quotes and the challenges themselves are NOT NECESSARILY meant to be mutually inspiring.  However, since I went with the quote last time, I will go with the challenge this time.

I’m a crucial point in my career, making a leap from one sector to another, one location to another, and one task to another.  I may have mentioned that I just finished an MBA as the first step in making this transition, but the MBA is not magic pill that I swallow and wake-up with the perfect situation, especially in today’s economy.  The step that I want to take to find the right, new career situation is actually already planned.  I have a phone call tomorrow with one firm, and have direct connections with two or three others that seem to believe that I am a fit somehow with what they are doing.  I need wisdom to move forward, identifying and embracing NOT the good option, but the best option.

This post feels a little bare, a little surfacy.  Sorry for that.  Come back tomorrow for something better (hopefully).

Blogging Challenge Day 3

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Read the challenge yourself here.

I’m sort of going to break the rules here.  But, I don’t think the folks running this challenge would have a problem with that, nor would Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose book Resilience has inspired this whole shebang.  But, here’s what I’m going to do…respond to the Emerson Quote that introduces today’s challenge instead of the challenge itself partially because I do not think the challenge actually sticks to the heart of the quote.  Here it is in full: It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So far, this is the first quote of Emerson’s from this challenge that I actually have found helpful and true.  Whether you have some type of faith commitment or not, a discipline of solitude and silence, so highly regarded by many religions as well as the great thinkers of the ancient world, the great poets of history, and most of the great men and women from America’s past, is crucial!!!  I, personally, am an introvert…not in the “I’m afraid of people” sense, but in the Myers-Briggs “I like to process my thoughts and recharge alone instead of with people” sense.  Therefore, I instinctively know the power of being alone with one’s thoughts and with one’s God. 

I’ve been able to participate over the last few years in silent day retreats.  No one is allowed to speak.  We travel to some beautiful location.  And we just exist there.  Some take journals with them, others a Bible or inspiring book.  The leader of these retreats warned us, and was right, that the first reaction to slowing down and unplugging from the busyness of life is exhaustion.  I often spend the first two hours of these getaways horizontal and comatose!  How tired we all are!  You and I.  We go and go, not knowing that our bodies would prefer to just shut down than to go one minute more!

Personally, I find these day retreats about 13 days too short as well.  They are excellent, no doubt.  But, we’ve all noticed how it’s usually day 5 of our vacation when we begin to feel ourselves unwind a bit, and that is only true if we’ve truly, and intentionally, unplugged.  Sadly, the iPhone and Blackberry tend to keep this from ever happening for many.  But, even when we leave the social media, emails, and cell phones behind, it takes, literally, days to begin to rest.  Just as a day away required a couple of hours of sleep for me, a week away requires 4 or 5 days of getting over the withdrawals from the addiction to the rapidity of normal life.  But, can we afford to get 10 or so days away?  Would our companies fail?  Would our online relationships dissolve?  Would the Earth cease to rotate around the Sun? Would life as we know it cease to exist? And would that be a bad thing?  Hmmm.

If you need to think more about this.  Here are a few posts on it from a mentor of mine.

Blog Challenge Day 2

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Here’s Day 2’s Challenge: If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tracks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Well, first, since this blog does exist to try to inspire right thinking, not necessarily just following directions, I thought it my duty to just ask whether you fine people believe the above quote to be true, good, and right regarding “the best ship?”  Second, does that “if” quote actually prove the point of the “then” statement.  In such a formula, it should; for instance, IF you jump out of a plane, THEN you will fall to the ground.  We know because of gravity, this is true.  What about today’s challenge? Perhaps we can accept the first statement in the sense that it is impossible for a boat to travel in a straight line, therefore all boats, even the best, are constantly correcting their direction.  So, we take the ship statement, not as metaphor or as saying that it’s sometimes/always best to travel in zigzags, but as a statement about the limitations of real boats. 

Fine.  I’ll accept that…but what does that have to do with genuine human behavior?  It’s one thing to say that life is like a ship in the sense that we are constantly rechecking and correcting our direction, but it’s another thing entirely to declare that genuineness depends on focusing on those little corrections in the here and now.  In fact, it could be argued that such present focus is bound to fail if our past (point of departure in this metaphor) and future (destination) are not kept in mind as well.  Are the present corrections more genuine than the past that has molded us and the future that we long for and pursue?  I do not think so.

So, the task at hand…today in one sentence: Today I know my worst self and hope that I can write the same tomorrow due to remembrance instead of accomplishment.

Blogging Challenge and Day 1

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Ladies and Gents,

I’m not big into writing challenges…never actually done one…always thought they were a little hokey…but…I’m going to try one…this one.  Here’s a few basic reasons why.

First, I love to write.  I think I’m a good writer.  But, I’ve never really challenged myself to work on my craft.  It’s time to think about things like that!  Second, I want to blog more, but sometimes have a hard time making myself get to it, so this is a challenge to myself and hopefully some inspiration. Lastly, I’ve felt pent up recently in terms of personal processing…perhaps this can be an instigator for more important areas of my life, to get me thinking and talking with the important people.

Now, I’m about four days late on participating due to traveling internationally with Madame S. and Enfant S. #1 and #2.  Still jet-lagging a bit, but feel fine enough to get started here.  Join with me if you like…better late than never, right? So, Day #1’s challenge is here. If you don’t read it, what follows might not make sense. In short, I have 15 minutes to live…what is the story that needs to be told. Let’s do it.

Step #1: I assume that Madame S. is there with me when I get the bad news.  Here’s what I want to tell her: My friend, my bride, my beloved.  You are strong…stronger than you know. I wish I had more time to tell you all that I know and love about you that you don’t understand about yourself.  Trust God…He is always good.  Do your duty as a mother.  Know that I love you with an intensity that I cannot even understand, but much less than you deserve. You know that I have to talk to some others before the end.  Sit with me, my love, while I write.

Step #2: I write a letter to Enfant S #1.  My HOS, my budkins, my treasured boy.  I have had so much fun with you.  I wish I had more time to spend with you, but I know that I will some day.  Son, trust in God with all your heart, with all hope, and perfect faith.  He is your Good Father.  Buddy, here is my charge for you: learn to be a man, a man of integrity and courage, a gentle man and a man of beautiful masculinity.  Love, protect, and serve your mother…and also your sister.  That is your first calling from God, and from me.  Keep watch over your sister.  She needs you.  I already see in you all that God will complete, and it is precious to behold.  Be strong and grieve well.  I love you right up to the moon and back.

Step #3: I write a letter to Enfant S #2.  My blue eyed wonder. What a blessing you are to me. I am going to miss your smile and giggles so much, but I will see you again.  I am going to be with Jesus for a little while, and then I will see you again.  My daughter, trust in God will all your heart, with all hope, and perfect faith.  He is your Good Father.  Lovely girl, here is my charge to you. Watch maman (mommy) so you can learn to be an excellent woman, full of character and faith.  Talk with her about all of your hopes and fears…she understands.  Your bubba will always be there to protect you with all his strength, so trust him.  And, trust that I love you, and I am already so proud of you, my little darling.

Step #4: I write a letter to a select group of men.  Gentlemen, I will be leaving this world and entering into everlasting bliss.  I ask you, as men that I love and trust, to seek how you might serve my family as I leave.  Help Madame S. in the coming days with all of the work required by my passing.  Help Enfant S #1 learn to be a man who loves and fears God and performs the duties befitting of a man.  Let him know how much I love and cherish him.  Keep a watchful eye on Enfant S #2. Reminding her of my boundless love for her, and offer to serve as a guardian of her glorious purity.  I know this is a grave task to which I call you, but I know you to be men ready and able to fulfill it.  Thank you my cherished friends.

Step #5: I hold my family until the end, praying and praising God for the gift they are to me.

Monsieur S

 

Blogging Challenge and Day 1

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Ladies and Gents,

I’m not big into writing challenges…never actually done one…always thought they were a little hokey…but…I’m going to try one…this one.  Here’s a few basic reasons why.

First, I love to write.  I think I’m a good writer.  But, I’ve never really challenged myself to work on my craft.  It’s time to think about things like that!  Second, I want to blog more, but sometimes have a hard time making myself get to it, so this is a challenge to myself and hopefully some inspiration. Lastly, I’ve felt pent up recently in terms of personal processing…perhaps this can be an instigator for more important areas of my life, to get me thinking and talking with the important people.

Now, I’m about four days late on participating due to traveling internationally with Madame S. and Enfant S. #1 and #2.  Still jet-lagging a bit, but feel fine enough to get started here.  Join with me if you like…better late than never, right? So, Day #1′s challenge is here. If you don’t read it, what follows might not make sense. In short, I have 15 minutes to live…what is the story that needs to be told. Let’s do it.

Step #1: I assume that Madame S. is there with me when I get the bad news.  Here’s what I want to tell her: My friend, my bride, my beloved.  You are strong…stronger than you know. I wish I had more time to tell you all that I know and love about you that you don’t understand about yourself.  Trust God…He is always good.  Wife of my youth, here is my final charge to you: Do your duty as a mother.  Know that I love you with an intensity that I cannot even understand, but much less than you deserve. You know that I have to talk to some others before the end.  Sit with me, my love, while I write.

Step #2: I write a letter to Enfant S #1.  My HOS, my budkins, my treasured boy.  I have had so much fun with you.  I wish I had more time to spend with you, but I know that I will some day.  Son, trust in God with all your heart, with all hope, and perfect faith.  He is your Good Father.  Buddy, here is my charge for you: learn to be a man, a man of integrity and courage, a gentle man and a man of beautiful masculinity.  Love, protect, and serve your mother…and also your sister.  That is your first calling from God, and from me.  Keep watch over your sister.  She needs you.  I already see in you all that God will complete, and it is precious to behold.  Be strong and grieve well.  I love you right up to the moon and back.

Step #3: I write a letter to Enfant S #2.  My blue eyed wonder. What a blessing you are to me. I am going to miss your smile and giggles so much, but I will see you again.  I am going to be with Jesus for a little while, and then I will see you again.  My daughter, trust in God will all your heart, with all hope, and perfect faith.  He is your Good Father.  Lovely girl, here is my charge to you. Watch maman (mommy) so you can learn to be an excellent woman, full of character and faith.  Talk with her about all of your hopes and fears…she understands.  Your bubba will always be there to protect you with all his strength, so trust him.  And, trust that I love you, and I am already so proud of you, my little darling.

Step #4: I write a letter to a select group of men.  Gentlemen, I will be leaving this world and entering into everlasting bliss.  I ask you, as men that I love and trust, to seek how you might serve my family as I leave.  Help Madame S. in the coming days with all of the work required by my passing.  Help Enfant S #1 learn to be a man who loves and fears God and performs the duties befitting of a man.  Let him know how much I love and cherish him.  Keep a watchful eye on Enfant S #2. Reminding her of my boundless love for her, and offer to serve as a guardian of her glorious purity.  I know this is a grave task to which I call you, but I know you to be men ready and able to fulfill it.  Thank you my cherished friends.

Step #5: I hold my family until the end, praying and praising God for the gift they are to me.

Monsieur S

Proverbs 12:27 Reflections

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I’ve really been challenged by Proverbs 12:27 recently, and so I thought I’d write out a couple of reflections.  First, it should be said that I have been reading the NASB and that there is some disagreement over how to translate it.  I will give you the NASB translation and in parenthesis I will put the alternative meanings.

“A lazy man does not roast(catch/pursue) his prey,  but the precious possession of a man is diligence. (the diligent gain precious wealth OR the substance of a diligent man is precious)”

The first line is fairly clear despite the differences.  The lazy man either is too lazy to go hunting/catching prey, or they are too lazy to prepare it and cook it once they have caught it, and so it spoils.  Either way, laziness is wasteful.  The second line is a little tougher and I don’t have any Hebrew study sources right now, so feel free to help me out.  I think either translation is possible, and there are multiple variations of each which can be summed up thus:

1. Diligence leads to precious possessions

2. Diligence is the precious possession (with a slight variations stating that the character of a man who is diligent is precious, not necessarily the diligence itself, but the full substance of the man).

I think the first option for the second line is better as a parallel with the first line regarding the lazy.  It could look something like: The lazy get nothing, the diligent gets wealth.  OK, not bad, makes sense.  This might be where looking at the Hebrew would be useful to see if it structurally is a parallel as many proverbs are parallelisms, but many are not.  So, on the other hand, the second option could be drawing attention to the lazy and then stating, not a parallelism, but a broader truth…namely that diligence is a quality that is unimaginably valuable.  In that case, simplified, it looks like this: the lazy end up with nothing, but there’s no end to how diligence can bless.  Of course, the 2nd option doesn’t mean that the first option isn’t implied.  If diligence is a precious possession, one of the reasons it is so is because it provides possessions for the diligent man and his family.

I really didn’t intend to look at the text this way, but it’s useful I hope.  The NASB often leaves phrases vague/ambiguous if they feel the original is vague, intentionally or not.  And I think in this case, it is helpful to do so.  So, now that our text criticism is finish…

Now, why me and why this proverb?  Why has this once caught my attention amidst hundreds of other Solomonically wise sayings. For some reason it was seared into my brain the other day when I read it.  I’ve read it a few times before, but never once glanced a second time at it, but this time it struck a real chord.  I’m sure it’s my season of life and where the Lord has me, but in reflecting, here’s three short points that have come up, especially as regarding how precious diligence itself can be.

1. Diligence is precious because it does allow you to maximize opportunities.  An entrepreneur would agree, as would a pastor.  If I use the time in my day to it’s fullest potention through good planning and organizing, then voila more stuff gets done.  That’s good and true.

2. Deeper than that, diligence is precious because it CAN provide opportunity for those things that are truly precious, and it can do so in amazing ways.  To the first point here, if I am diligent at the wrong things, or even just good (as opposed to the best) things, then diligence is not that precious.  But, if diligence is directed towards eternal things, things that are in themselves precious, it is infinite in it’s own preciousness.  For example, if I diligently plan out my days in order to maximize opportunities to be with and bless and disciple my children, then diligence is unfathomably precious.  If I diligently labor to finish my work day within 8 hours instead of dragging work home with me, allowing it to cut into my time with my wife, then that diligence is exceedingly valuable.  Or, if I plan the first moments of each morning to be spent in the presence of God and I diligently guard that time and diligently wake with the alarm’s first ring, then that diligence will reap eternal rewards.

3. All that leads me to the final point: Pursue diligence not for diligence’s sake, and not primarily to maximize/organize, or to gain possessions, but because diligence allows you to maximize your interaction with and enjoyment of those possessions which you already have and which are eternally precious, namely, your relationship with your Heavenly Father and the people that He has given you charge of and life with.

Hope that makes sense.  I’m feeling a bit rusty at this blogging thing!  But, may these things sink deeper into my heart, may you be encouraged, and may God be glorified!