Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thinkin' 'bout stuff...

I don't know if I'm going to make any actual resolutions for 2014, but I've been processing how I relate to material things more this past year than I think I ever have. And change is in the air.

I know I always feel, as Christmas approaches, and definitely the week or so following, a disappointment that I've allowed myself to get sucked into the buying of so much that, in the end, really only amounts to more "stuff" - even as we've seriously curbed the whole shopping and gift-giving scene over the past few years. Without a conscious effort to not bring more stuff into one's life, it seems the accumulation of it is inevitable in this materialistic culture we live in.

Once in a rare while we've gone on spending "fasts" and not purchased anything but necessities for a few weeks or a month, but usually that's been out of financial need. At this point, it's not exactly out of financial need that I'm considering challenging myself to a spending "fast" (though Greg would differ with me on that), but rather I'm once again considering a personal spending fast because of this sense of unease I have over how much stuff we have.

Truth be told, except for groceries I've actually already been practicing a bit of a spending fast since Christmas. When the urge strikes, I've been telling myself that I don't need to, say... go see what's marked down after Christmas. 'Cuz you know...if it's there and cheap enough I'm gonna wanna buy it and bring it home. Whether or not I need it - or maybe even want it. What's up with that?!?

So the challenge is already on. To put a serious curb to the shopping. To stop bringing home more stuff. The house is in drastic need of a diet.

It actually needs a purging, but that's a process. A fast, while a process, doesn't require that I actually do anything. The action is non-action.

I've yet to decide how formal to be about this. Whether to just dabble in some kind of minimalism regarding shopping or to actually try an experiment for a period of time with goals and rules?

I'm not sure which would be more successful for me. Or maybe just more interesting. We'll see, but this is what's been on my mind recently that comes closest to making any kind of resolution and it's certainly a direction I want to move toward: something akin to minimalism.

I don't know that minimalism, itself, is particularly attractive to me. Making minimalism itself a goal seems a bit antithetical - like striving for rest, or clamoring for peace. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but it strikes me a little funny. What I do know is I'd certainly like to grow freer in how I think and act in regards to material possessions. That seems simple enough. As a goal, it's pretty minimal.

So as the clock approaches midnight, I don't have any resolutions, per se. But I'm doing some serious thinkin' 'bout stuff.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Do We Do Art?

I don't how I stumbled on this video and I have no real context for this short speech. It's a rather unassuming little talk and the speaker ends rather abruptly, but about half-way through this lady, Judy Martin, speaks to my heart about "why we do art".   Do you have a need to create?  And do you sometimes struggle with justifying time, effort, and money spent on creative pursuits?

Maybe Ms. Judy Martin will touch your heart a little like she did mine:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sometimes it's the little things. . .

Quivers Ben and I made for a drama he's in this spring. Made out of Pringles cans, brown construction paper (mod-podged to look "leathery"), and belts scrounged from Goodwill. Need to add something (like a rag) to the bottom to bring those arrows up into view (someone else made those and they're not quite long enough), but I'm mighty pleased with how these turned out. They look snazzy on - and they seem to be holding up well.  And best of all . . . I'm a happy crafter now that they are all done. My only beef is the actors who wear them rarely have their backs to the audience and I don't get to see how awesome they look very often!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Word for the year. . .

Everyone, it seems, is buzzing about their "word for the year".   Well, I'm no different.   Except that I don't really have a word for the year.   Huh?   Let me explain.

For the past two years I've participated in this little exercise and I picked out great words - if I do say so myself.

Two years ago my word was INTENTIONAL.    What could be better than being more intentional?  I printed out the word, posted it in several strategic places and there it stayed.  All Year.   Reminding me every day to be intentional and causing me all year to wonder if I was.  Intentional.

I got to the end of the year and I had this sinking feeling that I really hadn't done much that was all that intentional.  Come on.  We're all guilty.  Days go by.  Weeks go by.  Months go by.  And we are so busy.  Or distracted.  Does the reason really matter?  At the end of a year, if we're really honest with ourselves we can all probably look back and have this sense that we didn't do all that we had hoped.  For me, I felt I hadn't been all that intentional.  In relationships.  In my activities.  In ministry.   In my life in general.  Come December 31, 2010 I had to admit I had failed to live a very intentional life.

I was disappointed in myself, but figuring I had just chosen a poor word, I set to work to think of a better word for myself for 2011.

I didn't want to commit too early, so I contemplated carefully.  I believe it was around. . .um. . .yep - June when I finally came up with my word.  My new word was Magnanimity (or Magnanimous).   And by focusing on that word I hoped that I would become that.  Big-hearted.  Generous - in spirit and deed.

Now, I know I only had about 6 months (compared to 12 the previous year), but still. . .you'd think I'd didn't need that much time to learn my lesson again.  Typing a word out and posting it in guilt-inducing places does not make one that word.  I thought about the word a lot.   I loved my word.  I contemplated ways to be magnanimous.  I imagined how great it would feel to be free with my time and energies.  But again, I got to December, 2011 and I looked back on a year of the same.  Mostly stingy, selfish hoarding of my time and energies.  That may not be completely true outwardly, but inwardly I knew I was as selfish as all get out.

As I sat in church on the first day of this year, I decided (momentarily) that I just wasn't cut out for this word for a year thing.  Who needs it?  Picking a word doesn't mean anything.  It had not meant anything for me - except to expose my unintentional-ness and lack of magnanimity.   In fact, as this past year had passed and I was painfully aware of my lack of magnanimity, even with those I love, I recognized a principle at work.   I recognized that in my attempt at preserving (okay - hoarding) my energies and time I shrunk in spirit.  I became less.  Instead of magnanimous I was, too often, petty.  tired.  selfish.

As I continued to sit there that Sunday morning it occurred to me that I had focused on the wrong thing.   I had thought about ways to be those things and how great I would feel when I had done them.   But there was a disconnect.  Obviously.  The simple truth was that I simply needed to do those things.  A whole lot less thinking and a whole lot more doing.  A pretty simple concept - even for an over-thinker like me.

So like I said. . .I don't have a word for the year.  Nope.  I've got TWO words for 2012.

Do It!   

That's it - Do It!

And no - I didn't steal it from Nike.  I thought of it all on my own.


We had a free-sharing time at church on January 1st.  People shared their goals, their visions.  Really whatever was on their hearts.   I had no INTENTION of getting up and speaking, but I was so motivated by my little epiphany I decided to share too (we're a small fellowship, so this isn't as big a deal as it might sound - but it was very real.  And good.) 

Another gal shared in her thoughts the idea of "Being It".  Yeah.  I like that too.  But Do It  or Be It - it's all kinda the same thing.  Kinda.  Okay, not really, but I'm rolling the thoughts into one and making them the same.   One doesn't do Intentional or do Magnanimity.  One is those things (or not).  I can BE Intentional or Magnanimous (or not).  But to BE those things I have to DO IT!   Get my drift?

So this is the year I'm actually going to Do It!   I mean it.  This is the year I'm throwing caution to the wind and actually being more intentional.  And magnanimous.

Just watch me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011



I really wanted to like this Bible study.  Truly, I did.  I wanted to share it with my girlfriends.   But I don't think I'm going to.  I'm really not all that favorably impressed, unfortunately.

If you're at all familiar with Rob Bell and his Nooma videos, that's what's cookin' here except the main player is a woman nameed Jennie Allen.  Other than the fact that a woman is in the videos, Stuck appears to me to be pretty much a carbon copy idea of the various Nooma studies. 

There are seven lessons in the study book and each lesson has an accompanying video component.   Jennie Allen is attractive and well spoken, but her delivery quickly became so utterly and boringly predictable the message became largely lost.   On me, anyway.   I think the point of this study is to identify one's "stuck-ness" and hopefully get beyond it, but honestly. . .I became so stuck on what was annoying to me about this study I couldn't get beyond the study (or my annoyance).

In addition to what has become to me an already over-done idea (filming someone awash in spiritual questions - as if she is the only one who's ever asked an honest spiritual question) I found the study book itself to be lacking.  Content-wise the study is pretty basic.  The questions are largely open-ended and encourage one to explore inside oneself.   I'd give at least a B to the content of this study - figuring it's target audience is probably young adult women who are still sort of finding themselves.

I can't give the material quality of the study book much more than a low C, though.  I was immediately disappointed with the quality of the print.   The study book text is printed mostly in gray scale on thin paper that allows you to see the print on the other side.  Well, almost.  If the print were actually dark enough to read comfortably, you'd be able to see it through the other side of the page, but it's not quite dark enough to read comfortably.  I had serious trouble focusing on the print almost to the point of eye strain.  Use a little more ink, please.  Give me some contrast!!!

In all fairness, this study may appeal to a "seeker".  Someone who has little spiritual or biblical background, but who is honestly seeking for spiritual truths.  Or maybe someone who's neglected their spiritual walk and is beginning to wander back. I'm not sure this study is going to provide much depth, but it may be the ticket to get someone who's awash in their own questions onto an honest road of spiritual searching out.

Frankly, though, I just couldn't get beyond the Nooma-ish-ness to appreciate what Jennie Allen is trying to do with this study.   If you like Rob Bell's style, you'll probably like Jennie Allen's.  If you have no clue what I'm talking about, just google Nooma and you'll find plenty of videos online to give you a taste of what you can expect with the video portion of this study.  Just because I don't care for it, doesn't mean you won't.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review - and as you can see, I didn't.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Book of Man by William J. Bennett

Bennett has compiled another rich collection of stories in this volume.  This time his focus is on what makes a man a man.  This 517 page book contains hundreds of stories, vignettes, quotes, prayers. . .that adult readers will find interesting as they reflect on the qualities that make great men.

There are writings about men in ancient times as well as modern and each entry gives the reader food for thought as he contemplates what it means to be a man.  Men of various political persuasions, religions, and professions are told about - all with equal admiration from the writer.

Rather than choose a chronological order, Bennett chose to organize the readings according to the following divisions:  Man in War;  Man at Work; Man in Play, Sports and Leisure; Man in the Polis; Man With Woman and Children; and Man in Prayer and Reflection.

This somewhat lose organization allows the reader to pick up the book and begin reading in whatever category he may be interested in at that moment.

I can imagine a person using this book as source of material for inspirational talks in a variety of situations.  This is a book for adults and it will, no doubt, be a book picked up and gleaned from for years by the adults who own it.  I consider it a keeper.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Subtitled:  Is the New Atheism Running on Empty?

I found Alister McGrath to be refreshing and engaging as he took on the “New Atheist” in this book Why God Won’t Go Away.

Of course there is nothing “new under the sun”, but McGrath explains who the current high-stakes players are in this newest installment of the atheist movement and what their tactics entail (namely ridicule and dismissal, but with militant zeal) which, of course, only serves to shut down conversation, not keep it going.

In contrast, McGrath entertains many questions asked by “new atheists” and gives reasonable responses. In reading this book (and I also recommend watching a debate or two between Alister McGrath and Richard Dawkins and/or Christopher Hitchins – such debates can be found online), one cannot help but see the difference between McGrath’s sensible (even humble) handling of a challenging subject and the defensive and insulting manner in which the “new atheist” tends to handle it.

A truly reasonable person should be able to rise above defensive and insulting posturing, not succumb to it as a main tactic in winning an argument. Insult and dismissal are not the tactics of those who honestly desire to have reasonable and rational discussion. Regardless of what side of the divide you may be on, I suggest giving Alister McGrath a read. The contrast in style between McGrath and the “new atheist” is stark indeed.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.