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...