Sunday, December 26, 2010

Goals Update

In July I wrote down some goals for the 2010-2011 school year. Time to check in on how I'm doing:

Become a better guitar player
I'll give this one a thumbs up. I've been privileged to play at church a few times now, and because our worship leader picks a lot of more complex songs, I've been forced to learn a bunch of new fingerings. And I learned how to use a cut capo. Which is sweet. And feels like cheating.

Produce at least one short film project
Working on it. More to come in January.

Record at least one song
Currently working toward recording a 7 track CD, hoping to start recording in Q1 2011.

Spend more time listening and less time talking
*Most* of the time doing well. Still working on this, though. I guess I always will be.

Pay off my student loans and obliterate my debt
Student loans are gone. And my credit card debt will be gone by 11:59pm on December 31st, 2010. Debt to parents (will never be repaid, but speaking in strictly financial terms) I'm aiming to pay off by May, if not sooner.

Proactively listen for God’s Call in my life
Oh yeah. Rocked that one a few months ago. Backsliding a bit now, but working my way back up.

Read at least 1 book

Learn to relax
Hm. I don't know. I haven't really thought much about it. I'll say I've made progress, but have plenty left to overcome.

I'm going to add one additional goal to this list. Because I hate small talk:

Be courageous, don't fear diving straight into a deep question

Never give up, never surrender!

Much as I love Galaxy Quest, that's not actually what this post is about, that quote just happens to be the first title that popped into my head.

I saw this quote on my friend Jason's Facebook wall tonight:

‎"Never give up on something that you can't go one day without thinking about."

No idea who said it originally.* Doesn't matter. This quote simultaneously puts words to questions I've pondered for... days? weeks?... as well as answers them. Questions about people, relationships, projects, careers - I'm amazed just how widely applicable this mantra might be in my life.

*The Google appears to corroborate its anonymity. And also, as one might expect, plenty of sites propose a slightly modified version: "Never give up on someone..."

Friday, December 24, 2010


Months ago my friend Suz shared some ruminations on friendship, giving me a new perspective:
Friends are truly a blessing from God. I don't have this many friendships because I'm an awesome person, but because God had put these relationships into my life.

Sometimes I forget myself and assume it's all because of me. It's not.

Trust. Again. Because that might be what Christmas is all about.

Impatience is my best friend, tempered only occasionally by fleeting moments of clarity and peace. Blame it on an American culture of instant gratification, call me a Veruca Salt, or you can say I'm ambitious and highly motivated; impatience can play both fault and virtue, depending on context.

As a virtue, impatience makes me get things done. For fighting apathy, that is a powerful ally.

As a fault, I think my impatience boils down to trust. Trust in God, specifically. Or lack thereof.

My situation is thus: there are several relationships in my life that I would desire to be deeper. And that growth may very well happen. In time. But my impatience demands immediate results, rather than trusting God to mould those friendships in Her timing, rather than mine.

Why I would mistrust God in this particular regard is a question beyond me. Yes, I'm perpetually arguing with God over theodicy, but as regards the people in my life, my friendships, my family, God has always worked gifts and miracles beyond my comprehension. In this area of my life, I have no reason to doubt. So why do I still?

Christmas this year, for me, is a story about trust. I choose to believe that something resembling Luke's Gospel narrative took place. And therefore I'm in awe of the trust of Mary. Being an unwed mother was... a bit of a bigger deal in the ancient times. Joseph could have elected to have Mary stoned. He could have disowned her (he was about to do so, in fact). Yet Mary trusted God. Well, she's human, she must have freaked out a little at some point! Yet we are told she had faith, she trusted her well-being to a God that, in that time, was not known to humanity as a personable God.

Who am I, that I think myself greater than Mary, to not trust God?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Education is the antidote to war

From Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, on the creation of ideas as viruses to effect positive change in the world.

Education is the antidote to war.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minnehaha Puppet Pals

For the 2010 Annual Christmas Talent Show at my school, a re-enactment of the Potter Puppet Pals' "Mysterious Ticking Noise". (see the original at

Monday, December 13, 2010

True Love

Wuv. Twue wuv. Universally embraced by songwriters, filmmakers, novelists, story tellers of all kinds. Love is a cross-cultural standard to which all humanity can relate. And with that universality comes the reality that everyone defines love uniquely.

I've long lamented English's poor choice of words for the matter (ancient Greek has at least 4), and so to define love in all its forms would prove impossible, or at the very least, beyond the scope of this blog post. What I'm focused on at the moment, quite simply, is marital love: the love shared by two persons (of any gender) who have committed their lives to one another. And more specifically, I want to draw out one aspect of that love: "for better or worse".

It's easy to love when life is peachy. True love, and I believe only true love, perseveres through hardship. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) I find my absolute favorite scenes depicting this deep and powerful love. Charlie Bucket's house is in shambles, there are gaping holes in the roof, his parents have Charlie's 4 grandparents, as well as Charlie himself, to care for, and then Mr Bucket loses his job. Mr and Mrs Bucket have every right to lose faith in the world and in each other. Sadly, were they a real-life couple in modern day America, one might expect the next chapter in their story to be divorce.

Instead, Mrs Bucket reassures her downcast husband that they will persevere. Their love transcends their adversity, and hope exudes from their very beings. I tear up every time I watch those scenes, honestly.

For me, the Buckets represent an epitome of true love. Unconditional. Unreserved. Unabated. It's beautiful. Some day, when I'm married, that is the kind of spouse I desire to be.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Story Time with Jeremy

After the snowpocalypse this weekend, my neighbors invited me over for dinner. We had a delicious chili and enjoyed time relaxing inside, tired from all our shoveling (they had it worse than me - they had two cars to dig out, in addition to shoveling the sidewalks).

As bedtime crept closer, their 3-year-old daughter handed me a couple books and asked if I’d read them to her. This intimidating query caught me off-guard.

Anyone who’s known me more than a few minutes knows that children scare me. Not as much as dogs or worms, but kids are right up there in the top 5. With that being said, since I actually know my neighbor, she doesn’t scare me as much. I’ve still had exactly 0 experience reading bedtime stories, so I suspected this might be some sort of adventure. But how do you say “no” to a 3-year-old?

I said okay, and opened the first book, a story abut Hanukkah. And as I read it, I kept praying there wouldn’t be any big words that I couldn’t pronounce. I’m a good reader, my vocabulary is decent, and I was always the ‘Hermione’ in my grade-school classes when it came to reading out loud, but still the pressure’s on, and I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of a 3-year-old! (or her parents!)

So book one was kind of survival mode, flying by the seat of my pants, “don’t suck”, however you want to phrase it.

Then we opened book 2. The Night Before Christmas. Ah. Now this one I know. You know you’re off to a good start when you’ve got the first page memorized :)

What surprised me about The Night Before Christmas was the vernacular - I looked it up, the poem was first writ (or at least, published) in 1823. Aha! No wonder it contained such unusual words. As an adult, I appreciated the skilled craftsmanship of each stanza, though I wondered how much my neighbor understood of it. I mean, what's a sugar-plum? And what is this window "sash" that he opened? People don't talk like that anymore (I say, with a slight tinge of sadness to my voice).

For all its high language, this poem slips pleasantly off the tongue, making it easy to read aloud. And so as I settled into a rhythm with the words, my mind raced elsewhere and I realized: I can do this. Not just reading a book to my neighbor, I mean, as in, someday, when I have kids, I can do this. I'm soooo not ready to have kids yet, but I have a small sense of peace that, when that time comes, it'll be okay. The concept of being a "Daddy" isn't as scary as it used to be.

I know that reading a story when the child is in a good mood is but one tiny portion of what parenting requires, and the more pleasant portion, at that. I've heard the screaming and temper-tantrums when the Little One isn't in a good mood, when she's not as cute and cuddly, and I'm not quite ready to tackle that part yet. But for me this one small step feels like a huge victory. The idea that I could ever be comfortable around a child, that's encouraging.

And I'm sure that makes my Mom happy to hear :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Storm of the Century

I grew up hearing tales of "The Halloween Snowstorm of '91". I don't remember that storm, I was 6. However, today's Snownami / Snowpocalypse / Snowmageddon I'll probably remember, at least for a while.

My Mom sends me emails of "oral history", stories from our family, usually events long before I was born, occasionally things within my lifetime. Here's an excerpt of what she wrote today:

Oral History in the making...

Believe anything you hear about our blizzard. We're closing in on 16" of fresh snow and the winds are virtually "blizzard" qualified, even if not literally so. The airport runways were all closed down for the first time since the Halloween snowstorm of 1991. Mall of America is closing early. The U of M is closed. Those three places rarely close, so that's a measure of conditions, here. The buses were pulled off the roads early afternoon, after 1/3 of them got stuck. Downtown Mpls. has 10-ft drifts from the blowing snow. The Holidazzle Light Parade downtown was cancelled for only the 10th time in 19 yrs.

And from MnDOT:

Mn/DOT is advising no travel in the Twin Cities metropolitan area due to difficult road conditions.

That's significant, because this is Minnesota - we know how to deal with snow. When MOA closes, public transit shuts down, and MnDOT says stay off the roads, you know it's serious.

I spent over an hour and a half this morning shoveling. Usually I skip my driveway, knowing I can just drive over the snow. Today not so much - with a solid foot of snow, there's no way my car would make it through that. And of course I haven't had my snowblower tuned up for a couple years, so it didn't start. This necessitated hauling / throwing a lot of snow by shovel. My arms and shoulders hurt afterward.

And then it kept snowing all day, so by evening I needed to do everything all over again. My sidewalks acted as if I'd never touched them in the first place - all that time spent earlier in the day seemed for nought. (I'm sure tonight would have been loads worse had I not shoveled earlier, but it sure didn't feel like it) My neighbors were out shoveling, as well. We talked briefly, then spent another hour shoveling out their van from the driveway.

Some photos from the day:


Front yard, facing neighbors

MSP Flights Cancelled; Photo from Bruce Bisping,