Unfinished Unintentionally

Posted in Life Glances with tags , , , on July 10, 2012 by Nathan

It’s unbelievable to me how much work it takes to get a job done. This past Saturday, a friend of mine and I spent the entire day laying new base board in my house. After hours of measuring and cutting, re-cutting and re-measuring, by late afternoon, we completed the job. Or so we thought.

After accidentally knocking it over with my foot, I noticed the we had completely forgotten to nail a piece of the baseboard down.

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One piece of trim, left unfinished.

Am I always aware of the unfinished “baseboards” in my life? Are there things that I have accidentally left incomplete?

I believe that many of our struggles in life come from areas that we believe we have “dealt with.” One or two seemingly small matters have left us unable to move on and have left us wondering if the job will ever get done.

Let us strive to “complete” our jobs and tasks. To finish the trim and details of our lives. When we see we have a missing piece, let us repair it.

Iced Green Tea Latte… Genius!

Posted in Art and Humanity, Life Glances with tags , , , on May 15, 2012 by Nathan

Image

Sometimes a little ingenuity and motivation is all we need to succeed. I admire people who are willing to take their combination of ingenuity and motivation and turn it into a financial engine.

I have had several conversations recently about how we should be looking for ways to use our abilities to multiply the things that we have. My good friend Mark has plenty of dreams, but one idea of his, is to be able to buy a motorcycle. Unfortunately his financial situation (like most of ours) doesn’t allow him the freedom to buy a motorcycle on a whim. He needs to plan for it and to save up. So he is taking steps towards saving up as well as looking for ways to generate extra income to save up.

A co-worker of mine, Hannah, has been blending and selling powdered coffee drinks, that she buys from Costco. At $2 per drink, she generates enough income to pay for the ingredients way before it’s used up.

I have been staring at my computer for days as I have been working on the 2013 budget here at work. Most of my effort these days has gone towards my work (which unfortunately does nothing for my income as we live on missionary support) so I am unable to give the needed brain power for new ideas like my friends. This isn’t a life changing idea, but the craving for a Starbucks green tea Frappucino came over me today. I convinced myself that I can make something similar to the Starbucks product by myself, so I went for it. Not much of a profit generating idea, but it could help you save some dollars by not giving them to Starbucks.

I’d say the idea was a success!

Here is what I did.

Recipe: One serving, about 4 minutes

8 ounces hot water

2 bags of green tea

2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup

1/4 cup half and half

1 cup of ice

I steeped both green tea bags in the hot water for about three minutes. Meanwhile, I put the vanilla syrup, half and half in a plastic cup filled with ice. As soon as the green tea completed steeping, I threw away the bags and poured the hot cup of green tea over the ice. Mixed it up to make it cold, I threw a straw into the cup and voila, an iced green tea latte.

It isn’t perfect, but Starbucks can eat their hearts out!

A Letter

Posted in The Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2011 by Nathan

I received an email from my uncle with questions about the organization I work with, YWAM, and its connection to the “emergent church” movement. I spent some time writing a fair response to the claim, reassuring him that YWAM is a Gospel of Christ focused movement and we are not connected with any such movement.

To be fair, I don’t know enough about the “emergent church” to sustain a viable argument against it. From what I do know, the “emergent church” is nothing more than a  collection of individual Christian thinkers with no single thread of ideas. These thinkers are not satisfied with the status-quo of western Christianity.

I will agree that our flavor has grown dull, but we should not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” The only attraction the world will ever have to Christianity is if Christ Himself is living, active and moving in our lives. I believe our nation is on the cusp of another Great Awakening because the Church is unafraid of the consequences and will allow God to move. And He will move.

YWAM is a movement

Anyway, here is my response. I’d love to hear what you think, so please comment after the blog.

Uncle,

It was so good seeing you guys again in. Jess and I love being able to be a part of your missionary family. We were extremely blessed to have you guys send us some kindergarten home schooling books. Our son got a new school desk this weekend and is already starting on one of the books. He loves learning and I’m glad he gets to do it at home where we can influence his education.

 Thanks for the question. I don’t have a standard response. You can find all sorts of junk on the internet by simply typing YWAM and negative word into Google and we can’t have a response for every argument that comes against us. I think, for the most part, YWAM tries to avoid conversations that distract us from the progress of the Gospel, which is the call that God has given us as a mission.  

To give you the facts.

YWAM is an International, inter-denominational Christian missions movement. (http://www.ywam.org/About-YWAM/Who-we-are/Statement-of-Faith) I think the key is that YWAM is a movement, not an organized denomination in the normal sense of the word. There are around 1500-2000 operating locations around the world with around 25,000 full time workers. This doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands that come through our doors for training every year. With all of this activity, each YWAM location operates as a “self governing entity,”( http://www.ywam.org/About-YWAM/Who-we-are/Governance) similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, with-in a set of boundaries (http://www.ywam.org/About-YWAM/Who-we-are/The-Foundational-Values-of-Youth-With-A-Mission) according to the Word of God, which have been set by International leadership over the last 50 years of YWAM’s existence.  Each one of us have our own Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, Board of Directors and leadership teams (Elders.) We are only liable to another YWAM location by inter-personal relationship, in no way is there any legal connection between a base in Denver and a base in New Delhi.

 We do have parameters as to how we must operate. And within those, our call as an organization is “To Know God and to Make Him Known”, this call is three-fold: Training, Mercy Ministries and Evangelism. So you may see one YWAM location, in a closed country operating a business and taking advantage of opportunities God gives them to share the Gospel, or another Latin America doing open air evangelism, while another location only works with aids orphans in Africa, and you have another location who simply trains workers to go into these ministries full-time. Each location serves as only one part of the three-fold call, but together you get a picture of the Gospel functioning as a whole body. Some locations, with many staff do all three. But we do not always know what God is doing through other ministries since we are continually working at the ministry God has given us, except through the relationships we have with individuals on that location.

 I cannot guarantee that some individuals within our organization are not claiming to be a part of the “emergent church.” But the very nature of our organization is to proclaim the Gospel to every nation, everywhere by every means. We are a dynamic group, but some people are just whacko’s. So I apologize for what you may have heard, we’re not interested in a “watered-down” version of the Gospel of Christ.

 Anyone can say anything and somebody is going to listen. But if I could say only one thing to the noise of detractors, they’re wrong. We’re just too busy trying to advance God’s Kingdom to earth to get caught up in that. If you want to see YWAMer’s doing the Gospel, (now that you’re on facebook) you can check this out (http://www.facebook.com/OCUprising2011). We have 250 young people, in Huntington Beach, CA proclaiming the gospel, seeing the sick be healed and people are coming to Christ in the old-fashioned, big tent revival way. We believe this is the beginning of a wave of revival that is going to be sweeping across our nation. God has America primed to reconnect with Him.

 Please let me know if you have any questions.

 Nathan

The Jones’? I’m Just Trying to Keep Up With Myself.

Posted in Life Glances on April 15, 2011 by Nathan

My life has been out of control! I feel like I’m doing way too much, too long and too often. And I do not feel like I am accomplishing anything. I have been noticing this for some time now, but I had no concept of why. Some people, whom I find very inspiring, will stop everything thing in their life to discover the source of the “out-of-controllness.” I, unfortunately do not have ability in my normal day to take a seat, open a journal and get some self-discovery.

As is often the case for me, I will just continue to go about my life, hoping that some revelation will come to me, helping me to discover the great mysteries of life.  But there must be value in  placing effort into the “cause of myself.”

We are only given a limited amount of time to which we may work, play, worship and mature in our life. The length of a mans life is 70-80 years. Within that we have 365 days of which are 24 hours long. At an average of 75 years, we only have 657,000 hours to live. I think it would be better if we could reach one million hours, but that is beside the point. That much time doesn’t seem to be that much time. So not only do I not have a lot of time, I don’t have time to waste. I can only do so much.

Recently I concluded that, within all of the things I place effort into, I have four major portions which I am investing all of my time into. (In no order of importance)

Work

Family

Friendships

Personal Development

I believe each portion has a tremendous amount of say in how “well” I am doing in my life. If work is going really well, my family is connecting and growing, I have close, caring friendships, but I am not growing personally and the things that should inspire me to live are stagnant, then I will not be doing well and my “lack” of personal growth will invade the areas that are flourishing.

With all of this said:

I am going to put in a little effort and do an experiment with my time. Because I feel like my life is “out-of-control”, I am going try to figure out why I feel that way.

I recently have downloaded an app for my computer and iPod touch called Toggl. The application is designed for independent contract workers to keep track of their time in order to bill companies for their work. The interface is fairly simple to work with as long as you don’t mind putting a little work in at the front-end.

I have set up the four portions of my life as the “clients I am working for” and everything I do during the day, from eating breakfast to making a work memo, to reading The Count of Monte Christo has to fit into one of those categories. As I type, I am tracking this time as Client: Personal,  Project: Writing,  Job: Blogging.

My hope in all of this, is that I will be able to look back at my report and see what I am investing my time in. I am three days into the project and I’ve given myself a month to complete the experiment.

I will let you know how it goes. I encourage you to look at Toggl and see if it will be worth the effort for the cause of yourself.

A Story About A Lampshade

Posted in Life Glances with tags , , , , on August 24, 2010 by Nathan

I recently read a blog post by a Chiropractor friend of mine, Dr. Mike Patten. His idea is that our bodies are often overwhelmed with stress and fatigue, which directly coincides with our natural reaction to our body’s “fight or flight” mechanism.

This makes me wonder…

A few days ago, I was in my boys bedroom getting pajamas for bedtime. This itself can be quite a task since the drawers we keep Asher’s clothing is do not slide. Because of this, we have to keep the top drawer open about half way and we have taken out the middle drawer in order to reach the bottom one, forcing us to reach into the dresser to get something out of the drawer.

But I noticed a diaper sitting on his dresser, and I thought I would put it in the diaper pail. As I pushed the diaper into the pail, I realized that the contraption that keeps the “stinky” in the pail was stuck open. It happens more often than it should, and I have to take the whole thing apart to fix it.

Now I cannot say I was completely overwhelmed with frustration at this moment, but I was alone. It was just me and the diaper pale. All I could hear was him laughing at me, telling me he was broken again and that it didn’t care what I thought. A stand off for the ages… Kinda.

I did what anyone in an irrational state of mind would do. I kicked the diaper pail.

For just a brief moment in time, I was satisfied, justified and happy that the pail got what it deserved. If what I know to be correct is, then I instinctively decided instead of fleeing the situation, I fought back! I was like a hero being attacked by the villain! Batman vs. Joker, Frodo vs. Mordor, the cop lady vs. Hannibal, Nacho vs. Ramses… Me vs. the diaper pail!

Looking back now, I think I probably overreacted. It was an inanimate object and I was projecting frustrations from my life onto it. If what Dr. Patten says is true, stresses from life can cause us to be in a constantly prepared state ready to launch into fight or flight. I think if I had dealt with some problems earlier in the day, week and months coming up to this moment, I might have been in a better position to blow it off.

Broken Light Bulb

At least I won the battle...

But I wasn’t…

Moments after kicking the diaper pail, I was left with a mess of shattered glass and plastic to clean up, wondering how I got there. What had happened  after “the kick” makes me laugh at myself still. The diaper pail took the velocity of the kick and transferred it to the lamp behind it. The plastic lampshade slammed against the wall, giving… cracking and finally breaking apart directly followed by the light bulb which, I am assuming, had a much easier time shattering than the lampshade. There I was, staring at the the lampshade and the light bulb hanging out together on the floor.

I tell you this because I think we often take conflict a little too seriously. Things in life don’t go the way we want them to very often and we will escalate a conflict at home or a challenge of a coworker or boss as the “critical moment” of life that will change everything. Often the reality is, when you step up to the battle, you are about to kick a diaper pale…

How to validate Idahoans… (and others too)

Posted in Art and Humanity, Relating with tags , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Nathan

Guest Blog by Chris-

My little brother plays on the high school tennis team in Boise, Idaho. I recently went to one of his matches and as I was standing there watching I overheard two girls behind me speaking a language that was not English! My first reaction was “that sounds like Bosnian.” (Some time before this, I had spent 10 days in Bosnia and a week in Croatia and learned some Bosnian before those trips) I wasn’t positive though, so I didn’t address them.

The next day, at another match I asked my mom where those girls were from and she said that they were from Bosnia! I went to my little brother and told him to say to one of the girls “sta ima” which means “whats up?” in Bosnian. After practicing a couple times he was confident to say it. As one of the girls walked by he asked her “Sta ima?” and her reaction was priceless!

“Wh wh…where did you, how do you, how do you know that?” so surprised, she could barely gets the words out of her mouth.

Her face lit up like a menorah. It was such a beautiful thing to behold, that little reaction. With two words, her language, culture, and heritage were validated by someone in the middle of Boise, Idaho. It is as if you are saying to them “Your language is worth me taking the time to learn and remember.”

I learned Spanish several years ago during my travels to South America and I’m currently learning Chinese in China. Just today, in China, I was in a taxi with a couple of guys from Spain. We had only just met, but it was so great to hear their reactions when I began to ask them questions in Spanish.

Once again- validation.

Not everyone has the desire to travel like I do, and some that do don’t necessarily have the resources. But most people have a handful of other cultures and languages within a few mile radius of them, and that gives us a great opportunity.

What culture or language are you curious about?

What language have you always wanted to learn?

Maybe you’ve been deflated and discouraged like many others by the way many of our education systems teach foreign language. The point of learning another language is not simply to be able to get around Paris on vacation but to develop friendship with people that you will meet during your lifetime. So who can you befriend and how can you start learning their language?

For example, I have an Egyptian friend named Hany, from Cairo. In order for me to get to know him better, we would sit down for lunch once a week and I would ask him how to say certain phrases in Arabic. In the process of learning Arabic, I was also able to learn about him and his culture. I absolutely loved it, and he actually didn’t mind either.

Here is a method that you might be willing to try:

Find someone from another culture. Offer to buy them a meal once a week or twice a month in exchange for an hour of language and culture lessons (which can happen during that meal). Find out how to ask “how do you say ______?” in their language, and go nuts. (Tip: Bring a little notebook or this brilliant pen.)

People love when others take an interest in where they are from, and it probably helps them feel less homesick too. Plus, its a lot cheaper than a semester at a university or a trip overseas.

My Interest in Other’s Words

Posted in Art and Humanity, Pursuit of a Dream with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Nathan

Ever since the beginning of this experiment, in creativity, that I’m doing called “A Reconstruction in Jest,” I have been wanting to shape this single blog into a community of creative communicators, artists and thinkers. My hope is that Reconstruction can be a resource for anyone and everyone interested in hearing about what is going on with everyday creative people.

The community will hopefully look like an electron

Because of my dream for this community, it is important to have others (besides myself) be involved with Reconstruction and be willing to submit their craft to this community. I have several friends who are regular, or sometimes irregular bloggers.  All of whom have shown genuine interest in creating this community with me.

The first of these friends to put their life into words is my friend Chris.

Chris is an astute verbal communicator, a thinker and very passionate about language and culture. He is one of the most traveled people I know, having traveled to dozens of countries (37 to be exact) around the world and is willing to take his family with him, everywhere.

Currently, Chris and his family live in China where he is learning the Mandarin Chinese language.

The following blog post was written by Chris and, to me is a great lesson in engaging the world around us in a very simple and human manner. The idea that we should learn to speak the languages of others is not new, but what is exciting to me is that we have a chance to make friends with others and, how Chris says, to validate them.

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