Life changes and expired food

This probably is a little odd, but a specific memory I have of my senior year of high school headed into college was looking at the expiration date on a package of cheese and thinking, “by the time this cheese expires, I’ll be in college.”

In that moment, it hit me that my high school career was quickly coming to an end and I was about to be a college student. I mean, this cheese would see the transition!

Well, I just looked at our bottle of ranch dressing and realized that by the time it expires, I’ll be a father.

Press on and get things done. Avoid distractions. Like blogging.


Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and get things done. (or, you know, carry on)

I’m less than two weeks away from graduation at Fuller. And all that’s keeping me from it are a paper and a final exam. That’s exciting. But between doing some research and making plans for next year at work, hanging out with friends, and spending time with my wife and our new dog, motivation on this paper is a little lacking.

But sometimes, you just have to focus in and get things done.

I mean, I actually like writing. When I pull myself away from the interweb long enough to think deep thoughts, it’s actually kind of fun. But then there’s all this other stuff that pulls my focus away. Like, you know, blogging.

But sometimes, you just have to clear your mind and get things done.

I was reading something Mark Batterson wrote recently about Parkinson’s Law. It says projects will fill the amount of time you give them. The more time you have for something, the more time it takes. It’s so true, isn’t it. Especially for the perfectionist type. It’s always on deadline. Because that’s the only way to get things done.

And then I was thinking about this awesome post by Jason Jaggard. It talks about how the future you needs the you of today to make the tough decisions you need to make to become the you you need to be. (Read the post. It makes sense. It’s good). And, you know, that “discipline” thing of getting things done when you don’t feel like getting them done and working ahead when it would be easier to procrastinate is one of those things the future me needs me to get better at now.

So yeah, it’s time to get this sucker done.

(But David and Joey – if you read this – “get it done” in this case means “make progress.” I’m turning it in on Thursday. Not Tuesday. If given the option, things take as long as they have time to take. Parkinson said so!)

(Photo from swissmiss)

Google is everywhere!

It’s amazing how much coverage Google now has with their Google Maps street view feature. If I can find the house I grew up in from a town of 8,000 in east Texas, what ISN’T covered?


Two more thoughts:

1. Wow, those trees have gotten huge!

2. I’m pretty sure we had some nice bushes out front. The new owners must have gone with a “simpler, more streamlined” look.

Odds and ends: Obama, Palin and Yoda

In the midst of sparse posting, here are a few things that have been sitting on my desktop I want to put out in cyberspace.

>> Some people don’t get Twitter. I don’t get it sometimes, but I do think it’s a good way to stay connected to some folks. It’s also a great way to exchange ideas. But believe it or not, I also think it’s a great way to get breaking news. It’s old news now, but when Obama’s VP pick showed up on my Twitter feed, I jumped over to his website to learn more. There, they were asking me to sign up to be the first to know.

>> Tina Fey was MEANT to play Sarah Palin. It’s probably the best impersonation I’ve ever seen.

>> And finally, a little graph inspired by Yoda. Great wisdom here, folks.

Classes, transitions, and a lot of paint

Things have been pretty sparse here recently, but for good reason. Between finishing up classes, taking some trips and making some big transitions, life has been packed! For those who may not know, I’m transitioning out of my position working with small groups and moving into a job as a residence director at a university in the area. I’m also going to be working with small groups at a church plant in Pasadena. In the midst of it all, I’ll be finishing up seminary with one class each quarter over the next year. I’m really looking forward to a slower pace on the schoolwork (might be able to absorb a little more), a more relational job, and working with a church plant.

Transitions are exciting, but they always bring stress as well. We’ve loved the relationships we’ve developed at our church over the past two years. We want to stay connected, but as we transition out, we also know things naturally change. And new people and new friendships are exciting, but they’re also new.

So we’re really excited about this next phase of life. We’re moving into a cool new place, and I’m looking forward to starting my job next week. The church plant is scheduled to launch in September. A lot’s on the horizon!

For a peak into what we’ve been up to this weekend, here are two of the rooms we painted in our new place. We’re taking a little time to spruce things up before we move in on Saturday. First, you’ll see the kitchen, where we painted the cabinets (with permission, of course!). To do it right, we took time to clean, sand, prime and then paint those suckers. It took ALL DAY. But you get to see it in about 45 seconds. Then you’ll see a bedroom wall. We also painted the bathroom and living room. All of that in TWO DAYS. With very little air conditioning. Fun stuff!


This is part of what I’m reading tonight and trying to make sense of:

“The matres lectionis as indicators of historical vowel quantity. The matres lectionis not only indicate certain timbres, albeit imperfectly, but they also indicate etymologically long vowels, again imperfectly. Unlike the Arabic script, the Hebrew script does not use quiescent letters exclusively to indicate all such long vowels. Certain long vowels often are not represented by any mater lectionis (scriptio defectiva), and conversely, historically short vowels sometimes are indicated by a mater lectionis, although the scriptio plena is uncalled for.”

Some of you may be tracking with all of that. But in honor of the rest of us, I again give you this video:

Ahh, the joys of seminary!

White stuff up North

We’re flying back from a trip to Chicago tomorrow morning, but we just found a good Internet connection for the first time at tonight’s hotel (which was fine, really).

The first morning we woke up in Chicago, we found this white stuff on the ground. I’m not sure what it is. It feels cold. The entire place is cold. Southern California never feels like this!


A little time for community


dsc_0085.jpgSince we’re Community Coordinators for our apartment complex here at Fuller, Grete and I get to organize community events from time to time. Today, we (ok, mainly Grete) put together an egg dying party and had a great time dying Easter eggs and eating candy with our neighbors.

We were a little worried, because even though it’s been beautiful in Pasadena for the past week, rain was in the forecast. But the weather was perfect, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. To top it off, about an hour after we got everything cleaned up, I stepped out side to see rain pouring from the sky. Talk about good timing …

30 units away…


You can’t tell, but this little sheet proves I’ll actually be done with my classes at Fuller in December.

I’d been telling people that, but it’s refreshing to actually look at it and think, “Yeah, that actually adds up!”

A little hypocritical?

itsalltoomuch.jpgSo I’ve been wanting to read Peter Walsh’s new book.

I reserved it at the Pasadena library, but I’m number 11 on a wait list.

Today, I noticed that Amazon had it on sell for $6.99.

I still have Christmas money for books, etc.

So I bought it. And then we bought a few more books from our wish lists to get it up to that $25 free shipping limit.

All to buy a book about “an easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff.”

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Let doors close


Even writing that title is hard. I like keeping options open, and it turns out, I’m not alone.

The New York Times tells us about a study from MIT that showed people will pay a cost to keep options open because it hurts to feel a door shut. Here’s a section of the article. It’s a little longer than typical fare here, but worth the read…

The experiments involved a game that eliminated the excuses we usually have for refusing to let go. In the real world, we can always tell ourselves that it’s good to keep options open.

You don’t even know how a camera’s burst-mode flash works, but you persuade yourself to pay for the extra feature just in case. You no longer have anything in common with someone who keeps calling you, but you hate to just zap the relationship.

Your child is exhausted from after-school soccer, ballet and Chinese lessons, but you won’t let her drop the piano lessons. They could come in handy! And who knows? Maybe they will.

In the M.I.T. experiments, the students should have known better. They played a computer game that paid real cash to look for money behind three doors on the screen. (You can play it yourself, without pay, at After they opened a door by clicking on it, each subsequent click earned a little money, with the sum varying each time.

As each player went through the 100 allotted clicks, he could switch rooms to search for higher payoffs, but each switch used up a click to open the new door. The best strategy was to quickly check out the three rooms and settle in the one with the highest rewards.

Even after students got the hang of the game by practicing it, they were flummoxed when a new visual feature was introduced. If they stayed out of any room, its door would start shrinking and eventually disappear.

They should have ignored those disappearing doors, but the students couldn’t. They wasted so many clicks rushing back to reopen doors that their earnings dropped 15 percent. Even when the penalties for switching grew stiffer — besides losing a click, the players had to pay a cash fee — the students kept losing money by frantically keeping all their doors open.

Why were they so attached to those doors? The players, like the parents of that overscheduled piano student, would probably say they were just trying to keep future options open. But that’s not the real reason, according to Dr. Ariely and his collaborator in the experiments, Jiwoong Shin, an economist who is now at Yale.

They plumbed the players’ motivations by introducing yet another twist. This time, even if a door vanished from the screen, players could make it reappear whenever they wanted. But even when they knew it would not cost anything to make the door reappear, they still kept frantically trying to prevent doors from vanishing.

Apparently they did not care so much about maintaining flexibility in the future. What really motivated them was the desire to avoid the immediate pain of watching a door close.

“Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says. In the experiment, the price was easy to measure in lost cash. In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home.

Students were willing to lose money to keep the options open – even when they were in a better place – even when they could re-open the door at any time. All because we don’t like the feeling of missed opportunities – regardless of how many other opportunities are out there!

I love simplicity. I believe less is more. But I have to admit, I’m still unable to actually follow through sometimes. I received a letter last week turning down my application for an internship that (after the interview) I had decided wasn’t a great fit and wouldn’t be the best option. But it still really bothered me! It’s easy to cling to options instead of “burning the ships” and pressing ahead.

Sometimes, closed doors are a blessing. Less stuff scheduled. Fewer commitments. (And, in church, fewer programs and events vying for people’s attention.)

So where do you need to let a door close?

[ht: lifehacker]

The Oscars vs. My Big Redneck Wedding

While most people are posting their reflections on the Oscars (you culturally savvy people, you!), I have to admit I didn’t see much of them. Maybe 10 minutes. Maybe.

Grete and I were over at a friend’s place tonight for a more low-key small group meeting, and we turned on the boar.jpgOscars. But before too long, we were distracted by one of our friend’s new guilty pleasures: CMT’s My Big Redneck Wedding.

If the Oscars are cultured, this is anything but. In less than 30 minutes, I saw a bachelor party that involved killing a wild boar and bringing it back in a cooler for mom to skin and get ready to cook at the wedding, a bride who rode to her wedding – in her dress – on the back of a lawn mower, and a veil and bridesmaid dresses made out of camouflage.

If nothing else, it’s a reminder to this guy living in Southern California that this great land we live in is DIVERSE. And, not to play into any stereotypes, but it kind of reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in East Texas. And while that ain’t my culture, I knew some folks growing up who would have loved that there wedding…

The school side of life: Next quarter

For those of you interested in these type of things, here are the classes I’m planning to take next quarter (Fuller’s registration is next week!):

  • Beginning Hebrew, second quarter; M. Ramos
  • NT Exegesis: James and 1 Peter; J. Green
  • Systematic Theology 3: Ecclesiology and Eschatology; V. Karkkainen
  • Preaching Practicum; D. Nason

That sermon…


A few of you have asked about my first “class” sermon. It went well, thanks. It’s always interesting preaching to a group of 8 seminary students for 15 minutes. (I’m a fan of short sermons – but 15 minutes really is a microwaved message!)

There’s things I thought went well, and there are even more things I’m hoping to improve on. But that’s life. I do, however, really believe the message of it.

I’m sure I’ll regret making an early-in-ministry sermon available someday, but hey, live and learn, right? If you want to watch it, go here.