12/25/2010

Merry Christmas...


No matter how old I get, I keep coming back to this simple, yet beautiful, explanation of what Christmas is all about.

I hope that, at least for one day, you can allow all of the worries and concerns to melt away. I hope that, for one day, you can feel loved. And not just by those around you. I hope that, today, you feel loved because the God who created you stepped out of heaven; relinquishing his status, foregoing his comfort, lowering himself, and became just like us. And he did that so that he could show us, in the most personal way possible, how much he loves us.

Merry Christmas, all. May the God who loves you be glorified today...

12/08/2010

Web Wednesday: Glasses...

Whoa... It's been quite some time. But, today holds special meaning for us... Because it's the return of Web Wednesday!

I used to make a lot of videos. In fact, at one point in time, I wanted to study film making in college. So, every now and then, I'll run across a video on the internet that goes beyond "holy cow, this is awesome", and slips into "whoa this inspires me and makes me want to create something".

This video is just such a video.

Even though I've never played the Zelda game this song is from, I'm marveling at the amount of planning and editing it must have taken to pull this off.

Click to enjoy. Then, come over and help me set this up...

12/06/2010

Ministry Lessons From the Retail World: Part 3...

For the first two posts in this series, click here and here...

I've been at my retail job for a little over a year now. All the while, I've been hunting for another chance to work full time in ministry. But, as I've done that, I've been careful to not let this opportunity that God has given me in the mean time pass by without soaking in everything I could from it. So, any chance I could, I've paid attention to leadership, training, organization, and management so that, when I do find another ministry job, I'll have some more tools at my disposal.

At the beginning of this month, our store got a new manager. To be honest, a lot of us were nervous about his arrival. Not so much because we were territorial and didn't want to allow someone new into our zone, but because we've been working really hard to improve things for the past few months. And the thought of someone who hadn't lived that with us coming in and not appreciating it was pretty scary. But that hasn't happened...

In fact, he's been great. Not to mention, really different from our last manager. Since starting, I'm not sure he's been in his office for longer than five or ten minutes. He's spent most of his time on the salesfloor. I've seen him straightening products, cleaning, pushing carts, helping guests, fixing prices, and talking with a lot of the team members. Now, is that because we don't have the staff for that? Nope. It's because he's doing something that is absolutely essential for a leader to do...

You've got to get face time with those you're leading... Anyone who's ever held a leadership position can tell you that the first year or so is super important for two reasons: 1) You've got to get the lay of the land, and 2) You've got to get to know your team. Face time helps you do that. But what about once you get past that first year? Face time helps you stay connected. Now, there are some two hundred team members at our store. So will it be possible for him to get to know everyone? Nope. Will it be possible for him to even know everyone's name? Nope. But it's still important that everyone see him and feel like he's available to them. You can't lead people who feel like you don't know them. But more importantly, you can't lead people who feel like they don't know you...

12/05/2010

Body Double 31: Frowny Face...

It's been a while since I've done a Body Double, so I thought now was the perfect time to bring it back!

Do you know what a meme is? It's kind of an idea that spreads virally across the internet. Well, there are a few websites that I read daily that mention Maggie Gyllenhaal regularly. But, when they do, it's not so much in reference to her incredible acting talent, her marriage to another actor with a multi-voweled last name, or her Bubble Boy brother. They mention her because of the way she looks. (Hello. This is a Body Double post. Could you not see where I was going with this?) You know what? Rather than trying to describe it, I'll just show you...

According to these websites, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks like a sad cartoon turtle.

The first time I read that, I burst out laughing. And then silently agreed.

What say you? Body Double or not...

11/22/2010

Movies I'm Looking Forward To...

To say that 2010 is a slow movie year would be an understatement. But it's not so much that I've had to sit through a ton of bad movies. It's more like I've seen a ton of mediocre ones (or, based on trailers and reviews, haven't had much of a desire to explore what a film might be about).

But, as always, the last month and a half of the year offers some true gems. Below are the last eight films of the year I'm looking forward to.

Anyone want to go to the movies...

Faster looks like your basic revenge on wheels story. But, I have to admit, I'm a sucker for The Rock Dwayne Johnson. Adding Billy Bob Thornton to the list just sweetens the deal. I'm pretty sure it's not going to win any awards, but it should be a great time...


I'm hoping Tangled is better than Disney's last animated offering, The Princess and the Frog. (No, I don't count Toy Story 3. That's a Pixar movie.) It really bugs me that Disney blames the failure of that one on a marketing geared too much toward girls, instead of just fessing up to it being a sub-par movie. In fact, they believe that so much, they changed the title of this film (from "Rapunzel") and cut all of their trailers to focus more on the male lead (Zachary Levi). Here's hoping it's as funny as the trailers make it look...


Look, Black Swan. You had me at "Directed by Darren Aronofsky". But to throw in "Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Wynona Ryder"? That's just not fair. Fun fact: Aronofsky says this film and The Wrestler started out as the same movie, with Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram" romancing Natalie Portman's ballerina. I'm hoping this one doesn't make me as depressed as The Wrestler did...


Full confession: I never read past "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" in The Chronicles series. And I've also been monumentally disappointed by the movie series thus far. But I'm still in for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader if only to see the story of the boy who becomes a dragon. I've heard it used as an illustration of stripping sin from our lives many times in the past year, and I'm anxious to see it play out on screen. Who knows? If the movie is good enough, I might pick up the books and finish the series...


Two of my favorite actors in one movie is almost a surefire formula to get my booty in a theater seat. But when you factor in The Fighter's underdog boxer takes on seemingly insurmountable odds storyline, you'd have to fight to keep me away. (Yes, I know that was Gene Shalit bad.) Much has been made about Christian Bale's physical transformation for his role here. And Wahlberg has had success in this kind of role before (Invincible). I can't wait...


I've got almost no expectations for Tron: Legacy. (Which is a great place to be when watching a movie.) I barely remember the first one, save for its amazing visuals. But I'm sure I'll check it out again before seeing this long-in-development sequel. At this point in his career, you're almost guaranteed a good time if Jeff Bridges is involved...


Gweneth Paltrow has fallen down on my list of actors I enjoy watching. But when she's on, she's great. (Hello, Pepper Potts.) But something about this story of a country singer's return from rehab to recapture her audience (probably the theme song) has me eager to see Country Strong. The supporting cast is pretty weak on paper. Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester, and Garrett Hedlund (the lead in Tron) are all still green. But, with a good enough story, miracles can happen. I'm not sure if this is that story, so it may have to rely on its soundtrack. I guess we'll see and hear soon...


I've got to say, True Grit is the film I'm most looking forward to this season. I've never been much of a fan of the Coens, but No Country For Old Men changed that. And with a cast that sports Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon in a re-imagining of a John Wayne classic, you're pretty much guaranteed oscar buzz. I'm prety stoked I get to end the year on this one...

10/30/2010

Pumpkin of the Year Web-o-Lantern: 2010...

For two years (2006 and 2007), I selected my favorite internet jack-o-lantern. Well, after slacking off for two years, I decided to bring back this noble tradition.

So, it is without further adieu, that I present this year's Internet Jack-o-Lantern. (Hmm... That needs a better name. How about Web-o-Lantern? Yeah... I like that.) Eh Hehmm... It is without further adieu, that I present 2010's Web-o-Lantern...

Surprised? You shouldn't be. How could a pumpkin with Tony Stark's goatee not win this prestigious honor?

Tony Stark's goatee: making the world (and Halloween) better since 2008...

10/21/2010

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaase...

I'm a simple man with simple dreams. And one dream I've had for the past decade, has been to have an action figure made to look like me. The closest I ever got to realizing this dream, was when I asked one of my friends (who used to be a toy sculptor) to make me one for my birthday. After he finished laughing, he asked me, "Dude, do you know how much I used to get paid for that?" So the dream went unrealized...

But you have a chance to help.

My birthday (or, the Event which shall not be named) is in exactly six days. So gifts are both timely and appropriate. But here's the problem, where can I have an action figure of myself made? I don't know. So, how about the next best thing?

I found a website called iamastuffedanimal.com (I am a stuffed animal) where they will MAKE YOU INTO A STUFFED ANIMAL! Basically, after they receive a picture of you, they make you into a wrestling buddy. WHICH IS AWESOME!

So... if anyone wants to make the dreams (BRAAAAAAAAAAHMMMMM) of a birthday boy come true, follow the link and do it. I feel like, in this case, a late arrival of the gift would be ok.

PLEEEEEEEAAAAAASE...

10/15/2010

Freedom...

I can be... oh man. What's that word? Crud... Oh! Forgetful! I can be forgetful! Case in point: Once, after taking a wine making course, I forgot how to drive. * I stole that. It's one of my all time favorite jokes from The Simpsons.

Today, I woke up at 7:30am. (Because I've been opening at the store this week. Not because I had to.) I kicked around for a few hours, responding to some emails, Facebook wall posts, and finalizing the details of a deal in my fantasy football league (like most super busy and important adults do). About 1:30, I started getting a little bummed about having to go into work this afternoon. Then, as I looked to my right to look at my indoor/outdoor thermometer, I caught a glimpse of my schedule. And, you know what?

I HAVE TODAY OFF!

I had completely forgotten that I had today off! Needless to say, I definitely did a fist pump. (Not a Jersey Shore fist pump. A Tiger Woods one. It's classier.)

I can't even begin to describe to you how great it felt to realize I had the day off. It was like getting a gift.

Huh. Turns out I can describe it...

10/11/2010

Birthday Wishes...

Today is October 11, 2010. Which means that in exactly sixteen days, it's happening. What's happening? My (gulp) thirtieth birthday. Or, as I've been referring to it for the past month or two, the event which shall not be named.

As per the norm, I decided to put together a little wish list. But the problem is, I've had trouble thinking of anything. I've already got ticket's to the South Carolina vs. Tennessee game. My favorite is coming into town two days prior. What else could I ask for?

Well, after thinking long and hard, I've come up with a few things...

  • Amazon Kindle 3G + Wireless (Graphite)- Available on Amazon (follow the link), Target (kind of), and Best Buy...

  • Kindle 3 Leather Cover (Black)- Available on Amazon (follow the link), Target, Best Buy...

  • Gift cards to Amazon (also available at Target), Regal, AMC, and iTunes...

  • DVDs- Iron Man 2 and The Book of Eli...

    Alright shoppers, sixteen days left...
  • The End of One Thing, The Beginning of Another...

    I started this blog on September 24th, 2005 with this post...

    Which, even if you're terrible at math (like me), you know means that my blog just celebrated its fifth birthday. And, holy cow, five years is a long time!

    When I first started the blog, I did with the purpose of being a place that I could write short reflections on things I was learning so that my middle school ministry volunteers could read what was on my mind. A lot has changed since then. The blog morphed into more of a place where I can write whatever I want. I left the church I was working at. I moved (a few times). All that to say, I've been thinking that a change to the blog has been due for some time...

    I fiddled with layouts, but could never land on one that I liked (or could customize) as much as the one I have now. I tried out a few other blogging services, but decided I had become too accustomed to blogger's format, and didn't care to switch. So instead, I decided to change the name/domain of the site.

    For the past five years, my blog has been titled "Part of the Process...". I chose that name for a few reasons: One, I wanted it to reflect how I think. I process. I like to take my time with an idea so that I can educate myself on it, weigh the different parts of it, and arrive at a conclusion only after devoting to it the proper amount of time. And, two, I wanted to show that the ideas and things I was writing about weren't sealed in concrete. In other words, they weren't finished. Even though I landed at one conclusion at the time of the post, I was (and am still) open to future learnings or experiences changing my mind.

    The domain name of the site has been johnnysboy.blogspot.com for a much less complex reason. I spent a lot of time trying to think of some clever name, and couldn't. And so, when I got tired of thinking, my dad popped into my head, and I decided that johnnysboy would be clever enough. It was a little vague and still demonstrative of my identity.

    But, a few years ago, I began to move away from clever names. I think it was after I left my church and had to pick a new email. I chose my name because I knew it'd be going on resumes. And no one would want to contact someone whose email was ilovewaffles@email.com. Then, I made a twitter (@joshtreece). Eventually, joshtreece became my go to username.

    And now my blog will reflect that.

    As of today (tonight?), "Part of the Process" and johnnysboy.blogspot.com are no more. Welcome to joshtreece.com.

    I hope you'll continue following me as I continue writing about anything that runs through my head...

    Hmm... I'm not sure if you'll need to make any adjustments to your google readers. Anyone want to weigh in on that?

    9/24/2010

    Power Rankings: 17...

    Power Rankings on the internet are like two sets of footprints in the sand. They're there to walk beside you as you journey through life. Unless I write them. Then they're like that one set of footprints during the tough times. Why one set? "Because I was flying. I'm God. Check this out. Wolverine claws! *Snikt*"...

    1. The Return of Fall TV The summer season of reruns is over! Thank goodness that new episodes of Chuck, HIMYM, House, The Middle, Modern Family, Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Smallville, and The Venture Bros. have swooped in just in time to save me from having to "read" for entertainment. Pffff. Reading... What am I? A brain scientist... (link)

    2. Waffles Is there anything better than a waffle? Well, yeah. But where are we going to find a jet pack at this time of morning? Hmm... (link)

    3. Football My Packers are 2 and 0. My Gamecocks are 3 and 0. My weekends are officially booked from now until early February. Now, if only I could do something about the terrible season my fantasy team is having... (link)

    4. Countdowns If waiting were a talent, I'd take last place at the show. But somehow, making a physical representation of the days passing helps it to feel as if the time is passing faster. I started with 63 days on the post-it. Now, I'm down to 32. ARGH! Hurry up... (link)

    5. Zac Brown Band love Love LOVE this band. Like a mix of Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, and Country. And their new CD came out this Tuesday. Buy their music if you enjoy good things... (link)

    9/23/2010

    FACT: Volume 3...

    For previous FACTS, go here...

  • FACT: Thank You by Dido is the perfect rainy day song...

  • FACT: Buttered Popcorn Jelly Bellies are incredible...

  • FACT: Tootsie Pop > Blow Pop...

  • FACT: One day, I'll visit the real Sacred Heart Hospital (North Hollywood Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley). GeckoLuke will be there...

  • FACT: If you go into a store or resturaunt 15 mins before closing time, every employee is cursing you with mind bullets...

  • FACT: If you're looking for a quiet place to study, a desk next to the bathroom at a public library is not it...

  • FACT: Bit-O-Honey is a totally underrated candy...

  • FACT: Hotel pillows are never comfortable. Never...
  • 9/08/2010

    Rocky Mountain High...

    So... I booked another interview.

    Now, I know I've posted this quite a few times. But I'm posting about it again for a few different reasons. One, to ask for prayer. For the best guide to praying for this, please click here. Two, to say how excited I am to be going to Colorado! I've never been and, if it's anywhere near as beautiful as Google Images makes it out to be, I'm going to love it! And three, with this trip, I will have officially batted for the cycle! That's right. I will have officially interviewed in every time zone in the continental United States. Maybe I'll give an acceptance speech.

    I'll be heading out from the eighteenth through the twentieth. Thanks for praying with me...

    9/07/2010

    September Is Going To Be a Good Music Month...

    It's been a while since I've been excited for new releases in the music world. I've been living on a steady diet of singles from iTunes for so long, I've lost track of time. But this month holds more than enough music to tide me over until the new year!

    All of the soon to be mentioned albums will be added to my iPod Touch alongside last month's discovery of the Zac Brown Band...

  • Kaleidoscope Heart - Sara Bareilles (I picked this one up today!)

  • Hands All Over - Maroon 5 (September 21)

  • You Get What You Give - Zac Brown Band (September 21)

    I can't wait for my ears to enjoy this...
  • 9/02/2010

    Happy 90210 Day...

    Ladies and gentlemen, today is something special. Today will go down in history. Today is a day that will never happen again. (Aren't they all?)

    Today is 90210 day!

    You see, today's date is 9-02-10. September ninth, 2010. Get it? 90210?

    And so, in honor of one of the 90's greatest TV shows (which I previously blogged about here and its update here), won't you join me in making 90's jokes all day?

    I'll give you one to start out. Just click over to my twitter to get it...

    8/31/2010

    Crazy Love...

    I mentioned in a previous post that I bought (as my first purchase) Crazy Love on my Kindle.

    I have to say, I got to this party a little late. Almost everyone I know had already read (and loved) this book, but I had avoided it. Although, I'm not sure why. And, honestly, one of the big reasons why I bought it was that it was the best/cheapest book I could find upon my initial search of Kindle books. But boy, oh boy, am I glad I picked it up.

    What Francis Chan has here is an incredibly simple, yet incredibly profound, book that would serve as a great read (or discussion starter) for anyone.

    I wanted to make sure that I recorded some of the passages that made me pause and think, as well as some thoughts on each, so that I could remember them in the future...

  • "In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him." This is a great reminder of why developing spiritual disciplines (like daily Bible reading, prayer, solitude to be with God, etc.) is so important. In a world filled with distractions, a person with mega-ADD like me doesn't stand a chance without discipline...

  • "If life were stable, I'd never need God's help. Since it's not, I reach out for Him regularly. I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don't have control, because it makes me run to God." This one knocked me for a loop. On one hand, I struggle with the unknown. At heart, I love to imagine I'm in control and have a say in how the universe operates. But on the other hand, I recognize that it's been during the crazy times of my life that I've run hardest to God. So how can I hate on the hard times? They've been responsible for some serious spiritual growth in my life...

  • "The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us." I'm not sure anything gets any better than this...

  • "The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him-and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by." Wow. This may be the best example of a truth that hurts, ever. I think this might be a result of living your life trying to follow rules rather than living in a relationship...

  • "As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him. It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment." It's like two forces battling with each other. When one rises, the other falls, and vice versa...

  • "Jesus is saying that we show tangible love for God in how we care for the poor and those who are suffering. He expects us to treat the poor and the desperate as if they were Christ Himself." In today's world, it's very popular to be passionate about social justice. But this is a definition of social justice that I can really get behind...

  • "The average Christian in the United States spends ten minutes per day with God; meanwhile, the average American spends over four hours a day watching television." I have no idea if this stat is true. But if it is, it makes me sick. It especially makes me sick to realize that this is true right now in my life...
  • 8/24/2010

    Counting Down...

    I am not a patient person by nature.

    In fact, one of the biggest things I've learned from this season of my life is how to be patient (and content) while waiting on the Lord.

    But that has to do with a "big wait". For the purpose of this post, I'm really talking about a "little wait". As in, the waiting that you do when you know something is approaching. Be it a birthday, a holiday, a vacation, or the beginning of school; the anticipation of counting down to something can be terrible.

    I have some friends who like to make their countdowns physical by making paper chains. But I thought that was a little... well, not my style. So I made this (pictured above).

    One post it notepad, one sharpie marker, and 63 days...

    Ugh. I hate waiting...

    8/20/2010

    Love at First Sip...

    I think it was sometime last year (or maybe the year before) that I started seeing things appear on my OC friends' blogs about the new fountain drink dispenser at Pei Wei. I knew I had to experience it for myself. So on this last visit, I went.

    So, it all starts with you placing your cup inside the machine and getting some ice. Next, you go to the screen...

    You see that there are many options of drinks. All you do is touch the one you want, and it opens up flavor options for that drink. (Like folders on a computer.) For instance, i clicked Diet Coke, and I was presented with the options of Diet Coke with Lemon, Raspberry, Vanilla, Lime, and Orange. I chose Orange and loved it!

    I also chose (as my refill later) Sprite Zero with Grape. I did not love it. I couldn't even finish it. Which is strange, considering my universal love for purple flavor.

    As I understand it, the machine keeps track of what drinks people are ordering and reports back to Coke HQ in Atlanta. That way, they know what people like, and whether to mass produce it.

    Here's hoping bottled Diet Coke with Orange will be in my fridge soon...

    8/19/2010

    The Proof Is In the Pudding... Pop...

    I don't get sick a lot. Well, I guess "a lot" is subjective. Last year, I got sick twice (once in January, and once in November). I suppose to some, that could be a lot. To others, that could be practically never. But to me, it's too much. It probably doesn't help that I'm a total baby when I'm sick.

    And here it is again...

    I've never been one for homeopathic medicine. I believe too much in drugs. But last year, I discovered an incredible natural cure for sickness. So this time, I figured I'd at least be open to finding something else. And I've done it. I've made another incredible discovery.

    This time, I've been coughing. A lot. And so, in turn, I've been going through a lot of cough drops. And no, I'm not talking about the cherry Sucrets or Ludens or other such candy flavored deliciousness. No. I'm talking about full on Halls. Menthol. Blech...

    But the menthol wasn't working. Which is why I was so happy yesterday when I opened my freezer to find Jello Pudding Pops.

    Now, you may find this hard to believe, but Jello Pudding Pops totally make a sore throat feel better. Plus they're delicious. I mean, has anyone ever turned down a pudding pop? No. Never.

    I hope the New England Journal of Medicine is reading. Because I'm convinced that Kenny Loggins and Jello Pudding Pops could cure almost any disease...

    8/17/2010

    Thoughts on Camp...

    I had the incredible privilege of being able to go back to a place I called home for so long this past week when my old church asked if I'd return and speak at their summer camp. But rather than try to type out a lengthy summary of what happened, I thought I'd hit some brief thoughts...

  • Doing something you love (teaching), with people you love (my friends from Saddleback), in a place that you love (Thousand Pines Christian Camp), all for God (who you love) is an absolutely beautiful thing. This past week was a great reminder of God's calling on my life...

  • This was my fourth role at Thousand Pines. I've gone as an intern (3x), a pastor (3x), a volunteer (1x), and now, the speaker. I asked if I could cook and lead rec while I was there, just so I could bat for the cycle. But they didn't go for it...

  • This was the first year I have experienced students, who were campers when I was an intern, now in the role of leaders. To see those that I invested in, investing in their own students was so cool. And, when one of them turned 21 at camp, it made me feel so old...

  • Being the speaker, and not having my own cabin of students, was a little strange... at first. But I ended up enjoying the freedom it afforded me to spend time talking with every student, rather than concentrating my time on 10 or 12...

  • For those interested, I didn't fall off the stage...

  • Basically, I got to fly out to California and get paid to do something that I would do for free. Don't tell them I said that...

  • Scrabble Slam! is amazing...

    Thanks to everyone involved for making this one of the best camps I've ever been involved in. I'm so proud and thankful to have been a part of it...
  • 8/06/2010

    Camp, Camp, Camp...

    Wow. In about a day and a half I'll be flying back to Orange County (which I haven't been in since I think last August) to teach at Saddleback's Junior High summer camp. TO give you an idea of how I'm feeling right now, I'm going to tell you this:

    My left eye started twitching yesterday.

    My teaching outlines need a little more work, I have loads of laundry to do, I need to make a few important phone calls, and I still have some last minute shopping to do (you know, for travel essentials). On top of that, I've got to work today (in an hour). It's days like today that I'm very glad that His grace is sufficient for me.

    Anyway, camp is from Monday through Friday (ninth - thirteenth). I'll be teaching on "growing up in your faith". Basically encouraging students to take their spiritual growth seriously and then, to take a next step. We'll have somewhere around two hundred fifty junior high students there, that God wants to love on. Would you be in prayer for them, for me, and for all of Saddleback's incredible leaders (both staff and volunteer)?

    I know it's going to be a great week at camp! Not sure if I'll be able to post while I'm there. If I can, I'll update here. If not, you can be sure I'll be tweeting all the goodness. You can follow my tweets here.

    See you in a week...

    8/03/2010

    I Want To Go To There...

    The time is quickly approaching for me to make my temporary return to California.

    And while the big item on my schedule will be teaching at Summer Camp, there are a few smaller items that I will need to attend to while I'm in town. (Or... state.)

    Places I Want To Go To In SoCal:
  • In-N-Out
  • Pei Wei
  • 7 Eleven
  • The Rainbow Factory

    I would like to eat at three of these places and wear something from one of them. I'm not going to say which is which, but let's just say 7 Eleven's chili feels fabulous on your feet...
  • 7/31/2010

    Kindle 2...

    There's still a few things I'd like to blog about from my trip down to Florida two weeks ago. Mainly my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But that post is going to have quite a few pictures, and (with preparing to teach at summer camp next week) I just don't have the time to edit them right now. So events from my vacation might keep trickling onto the blog for the next little while.

    One of the things that happened while I was in Florida was that I got a Kindle. Now, I should say that I wouldn't buy a Kindle myself. Or maybe, I don't think I'd buy a Kindle. I really love everything about normal (analog?) books. I love the feel. I love the covers. I love the smell. I love holding them. I love writing in them, underlining, highlighting, etc. I just love them.

    But, man. I love my Kindle.

    My friend, Ray, who I was down visiting, blessed me with the Kindle as a gift. After a quick session on how to operate it, I was off and running!

    Rather than type out a long summary of my experience so far, I thought I'd just jot down a few quick thoughts...

  • There's a ton of free books for downloading. Mostly classics. Frankenstein, Three Musketeers, and such. I know this is going to be a huge strike to my reader street cred, but I only have about a 24% desire to read them...

  • Purchasing books on the Kindle is very similar to purchasing songs on iTunes. One click and you're moving. This does not bode well for me, as songs on iTunes are $1.29, and books on the Kindle are around $10. I can see this is going to be an excercise in mental toughness...

  • I love that the Kindle has free (no subscription charge) 3G wireless internet built in. After I arrived at the airport last week, I pulled it out and checked my departing flight info on it. Lifesaver...

  • Thanks to the 3G, I can also connect it to facebook and twitter and share passages I like on those spaces. Here's kind of what that looks like...

  • The first book I purchased was Francis Chan's "Crazy Love". So far (and I'm a little over halfway through it), I'm loving it. It's totally simple, but wonderfully profound. Click on the image of it in the right hand column to check it out...

  • I also just ordered a leather case for it this morning. Don't worry I got it used. Hopefully, that's the only accessory I'll have to purchase for it. You know, cause leather carrying cases are a "have to" purchase...

  • Wouldn't you know it, Amazon just released the Kindle 3. What are you guys? Apple? And now, I want the newest, shiniest thing. Good thing I'm broke...
  • 7/30/2010

    iTunes Receipt: Part 15...

    You know, you would think that not posting an iTunes Receipt since March would indicate that I haven't been listening to much music. But you'd be wrong. How wrong? Like, Michael Vick giving a speech at a PETA rally wrong...

    As always, my ears have been enjoying only the most awesome of harmonies. And because I'm fueled by melodius awesomus, I've been given the responsibility of spreading the blessing.

    I've chosen to do so by providing you with a list of five of some of the last songs I purchased from iTunes. So click on the links, crank up the volume, and thank me later.

    Seriously... I want a thank you card...

  • It Happens by Sugarland

  • In Color by Jamey Johnson

  • One Night Only (The March) by Trombone Shorty

  • You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive by Brad Paisley

  • When Did You Fall by Chris Rice
  • 7/26/2010

    And the Thunder Rolls...

    Right now, as I type, there is a giant thunderstorm happening outside of my house. Like, so much so, that the thunder is shaking my house. (Or, at least, my chair.) It kind of reminds me of my flight home last night.

    For some reason, whenever I travel via airplane, things always go wrong. Always. Last night's adventure started with one of my planes getting slightly delayed. This made me think that I was going to cut it close making my next flight in DC. So, when I landed I booked it to the gate. Little did I know, that this would be a distance race and not a sprint. I had to go up one set of escalators, down another, get on a tram, go up another escalator, and then back down. Once I finally arrived at my destination, I was, to say the least, sweaty.

    That's when I looked up to see that my flight had been delayed an hour.

    That's a pretty great feeling.

    I sat and waited, without any updates from the gate agent. And then watched as the departure time changed again to another hour later.

    But once we were in the air, things took a turn for the better. As we flew south, through North Carolina and South Carolina, I got to see a lightning storm from above the clouds! Talk about amazing!

    Truely a #LifeWin...

    ENFJ...

    Ahh... the things we learn in life.

    As I was in Florida this past week, I decided to do some online job hunting (as I do most days). So I went on the typical job boards and browsed around. I found two places that looked promising, so I sent off my resume. I was surprised that, within ten minutes, my phone was already ringing! Of course (as my luck goes), I was unable to pick up the phone. So I check my message and found out the person calling was sending me an email to follow up. The email asked a few questions (which I provided short answers for), including "What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?"

    I knew that I had taken the test before. And I knew three out of the four traits that I was classified (diagnosed?) with. But I couldn't remember the fourth. So the person emailing me asked me to retake it quickly. So I did...

    And the result was just as I had suspected: ENFJ. Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judgement. (I'll let you google the terms to find out more about them.) But here's a rundown of the personality type as a hole:

    Responsive and responsible. Generally feel real concern for what others think or want, and try to handle things with due regard for the other person’s feelings. Can present a proposal or lead a group discussion with ease and tact. Sociable, popular, sympathetic. Responsive to praise and criticism.

    Sounds pretty close. But it left out awesome.

    So it's nice to have one more thing in the toolbox that I can talk to prospective employers about...

    7/24/2010

    California Florida...

    I had planned this week since the beginning of June. I had thought over what I wanted to do, searched for the best times/price for a ticket to travel, created playlists in itunes so that I'd have music to listen to, and made mental lists of all the things I wanted to do while I was gone.

    But things didn't exactly happen according to plan.

    I've written about plans before. I know full well that, even if the plans I make don't work out, God is in control. I know that. And one of the best examples to me, in this moment, of God being in control as my plans go awry, is what happened this week.

    When it didn't work out for me to travel to California, I knew I had a choice. I knew I could sit at home all week by myself, off from work, bored, and sad. Or I could try to use my ticket to travel somewhere else and enjoy myself! So... What did I do?

    Right now, I'm sitting in Ray's living room in Cape Coral, Florida. Ray is one of my best friends from college and, for the past few months, has been trying his best to convince me to move down here with him. So I called him up last week, and asked if i could come hang out for the week.

    And I'm so glad I did. It's been exactly what I needed.

    I needed to be with a friend that knew me. We don't have to spend too long catching up. We can just be ourselves; laugh, talk, eat, relax, and have fun. Which is just what this week has been about. And, boy, did I need it.

    I'll write a few more posts on what this week has held for me later. (I need to leave to go eat pancakes now.) But I wanted to make sure that I paused, and recorded this to remind myself.

    Sometimes the plans that are so precious to us, that we believe are the best for us, don't work out. And sometimes, God's got something even better for us in mind...

    7/16/2010

    Preach, Preacher...

    I'm not exactly sure when I should say the "beginning" of my ministry career was. Was it the very first time I served as a volunteer at a church function? Was it when I first committed to serving on a regular basis (vacation Bible school or Sunday school)? Or was it when I accepted my first paid job as a minister? Who knows? But I do know that it was some time ago. At least eleven years ago. Yeesh...

    During all of that time, God has been developing in me spiritual gifts that He would use to serve others for His glory. And as I've served, it seems like one gift, above the rest, has been the object of encouragement, confirmation, and nurturing from other people: teaching.

    I love it. That is, I love all of it. I love the conception of ideas. I love the study. I love the actual delivery. I love it. And I love that God has used it to minister to others. And boy, am I humbled.

    I love, am excited by, and am humbled by the opportunity that God has given me to use this gift while I've been searching for another ministry job. I mean, it's been nice to earn a little extra money. But it's been incredible to be able to serve by doing what you love to do. Incredible...

    In fact, in a few weeks, I've got an opportunity to teach/serve (terve?) that will probably bless me more than it will bless others. I've been asked to come back to Saddleback to teach at their Junior High summer camp. Needless to say, I'm stoked.

    But as I've been prepping the four lessons for the week, I've noticed a difference in the study. I feel like it's been much more mind than it has been heart. Let me explain...

    While I was at my last church, pastoring my own group of Middle School students, I had to speak every week. It usually came out to be somewhere around fifty times a year. Which is not as bad as it sounds. "Do something you love, and you'll never work a day in your life", and all... But when I prepped a lesson for my students, it usually was a result of one (or a combination) of a few things.

    It was either, I know these kids, and feel like they need to learn this. (Kind of a preemptive strike at an issue.) Or, I feel like a good number of these kids are facing this issue now and I have to address it. (Kind of a response to something.) Or, here's a foundational truth that every believer needs to know. (Kind of a adding to their foundation thing.) All of these things seemed to flow out of my heart. They came from a place where I had been wrestling with something, or been with someone who was wrestling with it, and I felt compelled to show others what God had to say about it.

    But with this round of prep, I don't know my audience. And not only do I not know my audience, but I've been assigned a topic. So I haven't wrestled with the subject (at least not lately), nor have I been with students who have. So I feel like I'm having to rely a little more on my head than my heart. Does that make sense?

    So, even though I love all of this work I'm doing to prep for camp, it's different this time. Not bad. Just different.

    But none of that can change how great it's going to be to be back with people I love, in a place I love, doing what I love, serving my God that I love. I can't think of a more accurate picture of heaven...

    7/14/2010

    Grown Ups...

    This may be a little behind, but I just noticed my review of Grown Ups is up on youthministry.com! Click the link to check it out.

    And while you're there, why not leave a comment and rate it? I'll be writing another soon too...

    Web Wednesday: Columbi-YEAH...

    Holy cow... Has it really been a year since the last Web Wednesday? Yeesh...

    It's no secret that I love my home state, South Carolina. It's also no secret that I love my home city, Columbia. Author's Note: By the way, shout out to the 2010 College World Series champions, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks! Which is why I was so stoked the first time that I saw this t-shirt.

    Columbi-YEAH! is a local movement to rep one of the greatest cities on the planet. Plus, it's much better than the city's actual slogan: "famously hot" (which sounds like a slogan Krispy Kreme would use).

    Click on the above link to read all about it. Also, could you please buy me that shirt? Size large...

    7/10/2010

    Encouragement...

    I mentioned in a previous post that work has been bumming me out lately. Between the rude customers, and constant repetitive tasks, it's easy for me to slip into feeling like what I do doesn't really matter. And I'm pretty sure that no matter what you do, when you feel like it doesn't matter, you become discouraged.

    But it doesn't seem like it's just me. In fact, as I've talked to other team members at the store, it seems everyone is feeling discouraged right now. I even suggested to one of the bosses that they give a pep talk during one of our evening staff huddles the other night.

    All of this has got me thinking about the importance of encouragement. In a post from last November, I mentioned that it's a daily value in the company. But while encouragement is important all the time, it's especially important during times of despair. (And, yes. I realize "despair" might be hyperbole in this case.)

    As an intern, we were trained to encourage people. We were tasked with making phone calls, sending emails, having face to face conversations, and sending hand written notes to volunteers on a regular basis. At the time, I kind of looked at this as a nuisance. But I recognized it as important. (Even if I didn't hold it as a value, I recognized it as valuable. Does that make sense?) And so, when I became a pastor, I carried it over with me.

    What was a nuisance for me as an intern became one of my greatest tools as a pastor. I did my best to encourage my volunteers every chance I got (and I hope they felt that). Everything from emails, to cards, to texts, to giftcards, to taking them out for coffee. I wanted to show them that they were a valuable and important part of my ministry.

    But most of the time, I had to expect encouragement to come to me in a different way.

    Which is why what happened this week was so strange to me.

    My manager at the store sent me a hand written note (pictured above) thanking me for doing such a great job.

    I was totally surprised! Not only was it great to be recognized for doing a good job, but to be recognized by the manager (and in such a personal way) meant so much more!

    This brought to mind some questions:

  • What can I learn from being "surprised" by being encouraged?
  • Does encouragement ever affect behavior? How does the frequency of the encouragement affect the effect on behavior?
  • Is the significance of the encouragement changed by the person giving it?

    I'm going to keep thinking on this. But in the meantime, leave me some wisdom you've learned about encouragement in the comments...
  • 7/09/2010

    Power Rankings: 16...

    Power Rankings on the internet are worse than dropping your ice cream into the dirt on a hot summer's day. Unless I write them. Then they're like getting an extra scoop of Chunky Munkey for free: awesome...

    1. The Yelling Goat Holy cow. I saw this on Jimmy Fallon early this week and have been cracking up at it for ever since. It's the closest I've ever been to realizing my dream of actually having a talking animal... (link)

    2. Avatar: The Last Airbender No, not the Shyamalan movie that's getting ripped apart by everybody right now. I'm talking about the cartoon. I've caught a few episodes on nicktoons and it... is... awesome. Anyone want to buy me the DVDS? I'll be your BFF... (link)

    3. Jamestown Coffee Company I went in on Wednesday morning to work on a message and ordered an Americano and a fresh blueberry scone. After drinking the Americano, I could feel my heart beating in my chest for the rest of the day. I'm pretty sure it gave me superpowers. I knew I should have tried to lift that bus... (link)

    4. California I'm going back twice in the next month and a half. It's been a year and a half since I was last there, and I... can't... WAIT... (link)

    5. Rita's Ice I've become endlessly addicted to this italian ice. My favorite flavor is birthday cake, followed closely by cookies and cream. If anyone were to ever stand in my way of getting some, I would smite them. BOOM... (link)

    7/07/2010

    Things I Love: Series 2...

    Since I've been away from the blogosphere for a while, I thought I'd begin by easing back into things. I thought I'd start by returning to an old series of posts that I started, but didn't continue. Things I Love...

    For some time now on my twitter, I've been posting a series of tweets about things I love. I figured I'd collect them all in one place (along with making some of them into links). I mean, this way, if you ever want to buy me a gift...

  • Vol 10: Tina Fey, The Venture Brothers, Diet Orange Soda, DVR, GAP Jeans, Fair Food, My bro, Third Day, The Ocean, Romans 6

  • Vol 11: Vinegar on French Fries, Community, The Film Club by David Gilmour, Mario Kart 64 w/ my bro, White Ched Mac N Cheese

  • Vol 12: The Mighty B!, Lemon Pound Cake, Starbucks' Soy Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, T-Shirt Sheets, Sweatshirt Blankets

  • Vol 13: Rita's Italian Ice, Pretzel M&Ms, Burt's Bees Chapstick, Seeing Movies n a Theater, Mixing Ketchup & Mustard 2gether

  • Vol 14: Warehouse 13, Jamestown Coffee Company, Cell Phone Pics, Finishing a Book, Counting Down to Travel, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Eggs

    Better start making your shopping list for my birthday, people...
  • 7/03/2010

    The Golden Rule...

    I've been working retail for about eight months now. And, for the most part, I've liked it. I mean, it's not exactly life changing work, and it's not exactly challenging. But it's alright.

    But for the last month or so, it's really been getting to me.

    Not the job. The job is fine. It's the customers. I'm really starting to get bummed out with people being rude to me. The littlest of these offenses is someone walking up and interrupting me while I help someone else (kind of like saying, "My question is more important than theirs!". It goes into people whistling at me, calling me like a dog. One of the best is people actually yelling at me in anger when I tell them we don't carry the product they're looking for. Author's Note: If you rank as a "feeler" on the Myers-Briggs test, don't work retail. Ever. Trust me.

    I usually handle rude people with an extra dose of nice and a little bit of joking. But it's been getting harder lately. So today, I asked my co-worker (who has been working for the company for almost ten years) some questions about dealing with rude customers.

    He reinforced what several others have already told me ("Don't take it personally. It's not about you."), added in something new ("I'll get sassy right back! And if they curse at me, I'll walk away. I won't take that!"), and then hit me with something I never expected...

    My co-worker isn't a believer. He doesn't go to church. But he knows I am/do. Which made what he said to me next all the more convicting. He hit me with this: "You're a man of the Bible, right? Just treat people the way you'd want to be treated. Even if they don't do the same for you."

    Ooph..

    Such a simple (not easy), yet powerful, concept.

    And so humbling to be reminded of it by someone who doesn't know God.

    Now, to just be able to practice it...

    7/02/2010

    Where Have You Been...

    Are you kidding me?! A whole month?! Wow...

    I think I'd like to start blogging again.

    Anyone still here to read?

    Oh well. Either way, I'm back soon...

    6/01/2010

    AIS9: The Winner Is...

    American Idol: Season 9 is over. There was no fanfare here because, not only was this season terrible, the wrong person won.

    So... yeah. Congrats Lee Dewyze. I mispronounced your name on purpose for most of the season (deWEEzee). Enjoy your 3 months of relevance and then lifetime of state fair performances.

    Now, let us never speak of this season again. Except to say, I still miss Lilly...

    5/12/2010

    AIS9: Top Four Prediction Guess...

    Is this season almost over? Only two more weeks? Thank goodness...

    Here's the catch up...

    I predicted wrong last week saying Casey would go home. Aaron totally deserved it, but I was still wrong. That brings my season score to 4 for 9. Stink.

    This week, I say it's going to be Casey. Well, him or Big Mike... But I'll stick with Casey.

    So tired of writing about this season...

    5/05/2010

    Only Two More Days...

    Do you realize how close we are? We are a mere 27 hours away from the midnight showing of Iron Man 2! I mean, take a moment to let that sink in...

    In a short 27 hours, Tony Stark's Goatee will, once again, be rocking America's face off. Unfortunately, right now, I don't have plans to attend the midnight show. (Actually, my local theater is showing Iron Man at 9pm, then Iron Man 2 at midnight!) I've got to work the opening shift on Friday, so no staying out late for me... Frown.

    So I'll be going to the theater tomorrow to buy my tickets for a Friday night showing (my first of many).

    And I... can't... wait.

    This might be the last mention of Iron Man 2 on the blog before the premiere. If so, that means it was mentioned 15 times here over the past year.

    Totally worth it...

    AIS9: Top Five Prediction Guess...

    First, let me go ahead and acknowledge the panda in the room. No, I didn't write up a recap of last week's episodes. Why? I don't know. Just didn't feel like it, I guess. I'm a little bit surprised that I've stuck with writing about this season for this long. After all, it's a widely known and universally accepted fact that it's been the worst season of Idol yet. And, to be Frank, I just couldn't bring myself to write another word about it.

    I mean, seriously? Shania Twain week?

    Ugh...

    But anyway, I'm back again with a renewed (yeah, right) zest for writing making snarky comments about the "singers". Slezak's rankings helped.

    Last year, "Sinatra" (or maybe it was called "Big Band" night then) night was one of my faves. Danny Gokey's song that night was incredible. I even bought it (if by "bought it", you understand that I mean "downloaded it for free"). But I wasn't that excited to hear they were repeating the theme this year. Of course, that changed when they announced Harry Connick Jr as the mentor/composer for the week. (PS, how sweet would it be if he toured with a band called "The Hendersons"? It'd be "Harry and The Hendersons"!) For me, he made what should have been an unwatchable mess wonderful. I'd love to see him in concert one day...

    To catch up with last week, my prediction of the departure of High School Student Aaron Kelly was wrong. (Which I'm not that disappointed in. I mean, I'm very happy to see Siobhan go. Just for the sake of trying to spell her name...) That brings my record to 4 for 8. (Ugh...) That's back to batting .500. Not good.

    This week, I can see the bottom three being Aaron, Casey James, and (shocker!) Chrystal. Going home will be Casey, I think. Which stinks, as I really liked his "Jealous Guy" and "Don't". That and, my friend Amanda really likes his face...

    4/28/2010

    AIS9: Top Six Prediction Guess...

    Guys, super short post here.

    My pick for the bottom three: Aaron Kelly, Chrystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus. (Yep. You read that right.)

    Going home: Aaron Kelly. Poor guy. It's destiny.

    Back tomorrow with actual, developed thoughts...

    4/24/2010

    AIS9: Top Six...

    When Idol first came on Tuesday night, the first thing I typed was "Thank goodness the show is down to an hour now. I’m so happy to have my life back. Two hours is too long! Little did I know that Wednesday night would be bloated back to two hours. I mean, how else would they be able to include The Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah?

    As for my top three prediction, I was 2 for 3. Casey James was in where I predicted Michael Lynche would be. Eh... Oh well. But I was wrong on my guess as to who would be going home. I thought Aaron Kelley's warbled rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly" would have been the death of him. But instead, Tim Urban's take on the Goo Goo Dolls "Better Days" did what the judges couldn't: send him home. With his elimination, my record goes to 4 for 7. Eww... I hope I do better next week.

    On to the thoughts...

  • Really, Casey? Really? A guitar solo? You do remember this is a singing competition, right? And, by the way, your vibrato makes you sound like a sheep...

  • Lee Dewyze is totally and completely boring. But the judges are completely in love with him. Seriously? He bores the crap out of me. At least Casey smiles…

  • I noticed everyone is using an orchestra this week. Does orchestra = inspirational?

  • Tim was bad this week. Like, Andrew Garcia bad. He threw away all the momentum he’d built up over the past three weeks...

  • I've also noticed everyone is doing a key change. So inspirational = orchestra + key change?

  • I thought Siobhan had shiny butterflies on her arms. Simon thought they were leaves. Both of us were distracted by them during her song...

  • When Michael Lynche came out and said he was doing "Hero", I thought it was the Mariah Carey one. But it was the Chad Kroeger one from Spider-man!

  • Too bad the arrangement was cut-and-pasted to death. It was just too chaotic...

  • Chrystal Bowersox. No guitar + fancy mic stand + tears + being the only talented contestant left = Season 9 winner. Boo yah...
  • 4/21/2010

    AIS9: Top Seven Prediction Guess...

    Last night's Idol was (as I feared) not exactly "inspirational". Unless you count me being inspired to wish I could just fast forward through the whole thing. (And, just when i was getting excited that it was back to running for only an hour, tonight it's back to two.)

    After a barely shown mentoring from Alicia Keys, some terrible song selections, and a surprise showing of emotions from Chrystal Bowersox, I'm going to go on record and predict this week's bottom three as being High School Student Aaron Kelly, TUrban, and "Big" Michael Lynche. Hopping on the train out of relevance will be Aaron.

    BTW, check out Slezak's pre-show rankings here and post-show recap here...