Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Articles

A reflection on embracing your inner self, from a middle ager inspired by middle earth

In art,Books,C.S. Lewis,Community,culture,devotional,faith,Fun,Lord of the Rings,movies,poetry,The Hobbit,Theology,Uncategorized on December 14, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , ,

Image

This last week I was inspired by listening to Malcolm Guite‘s talk from Kindlings Summer Fest, the third of a series of three. ¬†We attended Summer Fest but were out ‘living’ the topic he spoke of, primarily being the¬†recipients¬†of amazing Orcas Island hospitality from our hosts…they took us on a tour of the island on the boat, simply amazing! ¬†If you have not heard of Malcolm or The Kindlings it would be worth checking out. ¬†The podcast is in the archive and joining Kindlings as an Associate is well worth the $2/month to listen to the content. ¬†His talk was titled,

Malcolm Guite ‚Äď Finding our Way Forward Beyond Generational Apartheid ‚Äď Live from Kindlings Fest 2012¬†

 

In the talk Malcolm covers some amazing points on how to reconnect across generations, his first two points will be the focus of my thoughts today:

  • You Yourself are Intergenerational! Start by remembering and befriending your inner child, the one that dreamed Dreams and saw visions.
  • If you are a youth still in touch with your inner child, how about getting in touch with your outer adult?

There are parts of who you have been created as a person that were transparent when you were a child and over time you ‘learned’ that those things were wrong, immature, or even shameful. ¬†While yes there are ‘childish’ ways that we are encourage to let go of, that is not what I’m talking about here. ¬†I’m talking about that calling from Jesus to be ‘childlike’. ¬†When you ask a kindergarten class to raise their hands if they are an artist, almost every hand will be in the air…yes this is probably because they love raising their hand but also that there is a love and passion for creating and learning. ¬†By middle school that entire poll completely changes as perhaps a few kids will raise their hands while most will look around to watch what their peers are doing. ¬†How does that middle schooler get back in touch with that kindergartner? ¬†A better question might be ‘how do I get back in touch with that child in me’?

Last night as my wife and I went to the midnight showing of The Hobbit, an unexpected journey, I was struck by a few small points around this topic.  First, the story is told generationally.  The way it is framed is Bilbo Baggins is writing his adventures to his cousin Frodo Baggins, they are more than seventy years apart and therefore this connection is intergenerational.  Also it is a time for Bilbo as he is entering a late stage of life to reflect upon his adventurous middle life experiences.  Lastly, when Gandalf describes why he chose such an unlikely home-body as Bilbo to Bilbo himself, Gandalf reminds Bilbo of his youthful adventurous spirit that had been all but replaced by reading and looking at maps as an adult. Bilbo is brought face to face with the need to embrace the passions of his childhood and realize them as an adult.

One small aside this embracing of childhood passion can be a perverted immaturity as a grownup child plays with expensive and dangerous toys at the expense of others to fulfill selfish desires, the guard against this is clear from the movie…other centeredness. ¬†Bilbo embraces the adventure for the sake of reclaiming a home for the dwarves, be a child and then live passionately and childlike for another’s good!

Let’s also remember what I just described is the part of “getting in touch with your outer adult”. ¬†There is a beauty that comes along with age, that of wisdom, loyalty and integrity. ¬†These are also why Bilbo was chosen for the journey, fear would cause him to doubt his place at moments. ¬†The beauty of having a hobbit on the journey..and in this world is that they are the only ones of such great¬†character (especially the Baggins)¬†that they can carry the ring.

Today there are a few practical things I want to encourage you in. ¬†First, reflect on your passions from your childhood. One for me was the grandfather clock in our house, hands down the most valuable possession in meaning to my family. ¬†I grew up with a love of that clock and when an opportunity arose to be involved with making a clock, my passions from childhood were ignited. ¬†Second, sing a song or read a poem or riddle…today. There is a beauty and inspiration that cannot be captured in words by doing this. ¬†Christopher Alexander in his masterpiece, The Timeless Way of Building, ¬†captures this well…he spends an entire book describing how this nameless power is present in good (true) architecture.

I will leave you with the powerful ¬†words of C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,¬†‚ÄúIt means,‚ÄĚ said Aslan, ‚Äúthat though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor‚Äôs stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.‚ÄĚ

Seek the deeper magic today.

Advertisements

Articles

Vision: further reflections on the corporate mystic

In art,blogging,Books,business,Community,devotional,Fun,generosity,leadership,principles,Theology on December 5, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged:

“One can’t believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age I always did it for a half-an-hour a day. Why, I sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Lewis Carroll

The first time I heard this quote was at least four years ago when my oldest daughter was doing Through The Looking Hlass at Stone Soup Theater camp. Even as I read it I hear her voice from practicing the part, still causes me concern that it was the Queen who said it, such an angry ambitious woman sure for it right when it comes to vision. Perhaps that is why she was as successful as she was.

Science fiction is very helpful to me in this area of vision. An exercise I attempt daily is to think about something I have seen or read about that I want to become real. One example from my work is translation via telepathy. That one should be able to merely think of the words desired to be translated which would be shared telepathically with the translator and returned. Wrestle through this long enough and other creative interesting ideas and new methods will emerge, and perhaps one day it may be possible.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -Albert Einstein

There must be space in our lives carved out for this purpose. For me it begins with having daily goals clearly defined, if the minimum requirements for success in a day are not defined by me early in the day I will find time for nothing more then trying to remain busy. Once I know the three to five things I need to accomplish in a day I feel the freedom to dream. Whether I have scheduled that half hour or more does not make a difference and as a matter of fact often I cannot schedule it because the time is inspired from ideas that I a playing with related to other more concrete tasks.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

There are so many wonderful things yet to be done in this world, why not be a part of it. It begins with your thought life. It is hard to battle through the negative records that play in your head as Anne Lamot says, One tells you that you are the greatest thing in the world and the other tells you that you are worthless both are lies and the truth exists in the silence. Discover who you really have been create to be, take a moment to dream about be the world could be better, then prayfully move into a world that is waiting for your unique contribution. We all will be better for it.

Articles

Motivation

In exercise,Fun,fun video,Games,running,Uncategorized on December 4, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I went for my second run in my new shoes. As some of you may have read in previous posts after reading Born to Run, I registered and successfully completed my first ultra run, a grueling 12 hour race, that I completed 38 miles in 10 hours before the terrible rains.  The one black Friday purchase I did make was a new pair of running shoes and I decided to go Bare Foot.  Yes, reading Born to Run influenced this as well but there was a greater factor I realized while running yesterday.

Image When I was a kid I remember getting a new pair of Zips or Kangaroos and running as hard as I could outside my house in Baltimore.  I mean this is what you did, the new shoes made you run faster and it is almost as if they had a will of their own that took you over.  Yesterday on my run I realized whether the Bare Foot running trend is just a fad or not, it has sparked new motivation for me during a very difficult time of year to train in Seattle, especially this year with how wet it has been.  Never before in my life have I lived so close to trails that I can easily get to to run. Never before have I enjoyed running in sopping wet grass through my neighborhood.

I am using wisdom and not going out on long runs in my¬†New Balance Minimus 20V2 Trail Shoes, rather I’m keeping them to 3-6 miles on the trails. ¬†Also I have kept my old shoes, which are very worn to wear as I run longer distance that requires running on the street and pavement. ¬†As I head to San Francisco this week for work I’ll only be taking my ‘street shoes’.

So today whether you are running, working or watching kids I hope that you are able to find some motivation and encouragement to be your best, Rock and Roll!

Articles

Corporate Mystic: The person we want to be

In art,Books,business,Community,culture,devotional,faith,familiy,family,Fun,generosity,leadership,Prayer,principles,Spiritual,Sports,Theology on November 30, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , ,

“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.” – Bruce Lee

Twelve characteristics make up the corporate mystic:
Absolute Honesty
Fair
Self-Knowledge
Focused on contribution
Nondogmatic spirituality
Get more done by doing less
Call forth the best of themselves and others
Open to change
Special sense if humor
Keen distant vision and up-close focus
Unusual self discipline
Balance

I hope to come back to these and examine each more deeply but I’ll leave you with this story…

“Master,” said the student, “where do you get your spiritual power?”
“From being connected to the source,” said the master.
“You are connected to the source of Zen?”
“Beyond that,”said the master, “I am Zen. The connection is complete.”
“But isn’t that arrogant to claim connection with the source?” Asked the student.
“Far from it,” said the master. “It is arrogant not to claim connection with the source. Everything is connected. If you think you are not connected to the source you are thumbing your nose at the universe itself.”

Don’t forget the source.

Articles

Civic duty does not equal jury duty

In faith,family,Fun,humor,movies,politics,Uncategorized on November 20, 2012 by mstevensrev

ImageI’m off to jury duty this morning, this is the first time in my life that I have been called to serve and actually ‘able’ to do it. Before I didn’t live in the state where I was called or was unable to attended. While in theory I wish that I could have a good attitude toward the entire experience I do not. It is the week of Thanksgiving, I have a ton of work to do which means if I don’t get it done during today I have to work this evening when i should be with my family. This makes me even more suspicious of the entire U.S. justice system. If I don’t want to serve and i’m a law abiding tax paying citizen who is it that actually sits on jurys? The entire system is broke.

Yesterday while looking at the unlike icon on facebook I remembered that growing up my friends and I instead of giving each other the ‘bird’ we used the thumbs down, the ultimate sign of disapproval. The idea originated from the movie, We are Spinal Tap, where they played at an amusement park and two young me just sat in the crowd giving a disapproving thumbs down. So in honor of jury duty today…Image

20121120-105242.jpg

Articles

The (free-range) Chicken Theology of Work

In art,Bible,church,Community,culture,design,devotional,Evangelist,faith,familiy,food,Friends,Fun,Japan,Localization,mission,movies,Prayer,principles,Spiritual,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 11, 2012 by mstevensrev


Image
My theology of work is forever changing and evolving, and one place that I journey with others on this path is at¬†Kiros, once or twice a month depending on my travel schedule I attended the breakfasts meetings they put on where they often have a speaker share some perspective on living out their calling as a Christian in the marketplace. ¬†As a side note I also had the¬†privilege¬†of speaking to the group last March, if you want to check that our it is¬†here. ¬†This last Friday Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary provided one of the best talks I have heard on the topic, his stories had us rolling on the floor, his theology was simple enough a child could understand while making thoughtful people think, and his love of the scriptures came through as everything was driven by the text. ¬†The premise of Richard’s talk was very simple, you have been called by God to your work and you have the opportunity to examine that calling in this life to better understand your ‘responsibility’ to live out that calling in your fullness.

There were so many rich stories to share but my favorite was one Richard shared about a friend who is a chicken farmer who examined his role in the plan God has in raising chickens on his farm. ¬†There is a tension when you come to farming or the role animals have on this earth and the tension is this: Animals are not people and animals have not merely been created to serve our purposes. ¬†Another way to say this is a chicken won’t write Shakespeare, but a chicken is not merely a piece of meat. ¬†Therefore this farmer thought deeply about the theology of raising chickens. ¬†He came up with this, “God wants every chicken on our farm to have the opportunity to strut his/her chicken self infront of the other chickens.” In that theology I hear echos of the local farm movement as described to me by¬†Mark Canlis, that the goals of these farmers is to have their cows (or other animals) only have one “bad day” in their life. ¬†That day would be the day they are slaughtered. Though the image Richard provided me was so much more winsome because I see in my mind that chicken strutting around, rather than focusing on the bloody chopping block.

This can be a helpful premise for chickens, but I propose that people cannot think deeply about these issues because we don’t recognize that we have been created to strut the glory in which we have been created, theologians refer to this as being created in the image of God.¬†Marianne Williamson was famously quoted in a speech by Nelson¬†Mandela, she says,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.¬†Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.¬†It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you¬†not¬†to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The knee jerk reaction people, especially from my theological tradition have, to this kind of thinking is that we are sinful therefore pride and arrogance must be guarded against. This warning is fair but it sets up a false choice between¬†humility¬†and glory. ¬†Jesus lived in the fullness of God and yet was extremely humble. ¬†He accepted all people as equal, he did not use them as means to an end, the only part I would add to our¬†responsibility in the area of humility is that we recognize that we are wrong intentionally because of bad motives and unintentionally whereas Jesus did not have this struggle because he was God…he was perfect. One friend of mine says, “I’m wrong 50% of the time, the hard part is that I don’t even know which 50%, but God is making me better.” ¬†Live out in the glory that you have been created in, be quick to acknowledge when you fail at it, and in gratitude acknowledge that the source of every good gift in your life is not your own but rather a gift from God.

The question that Richard’s (free-range) Chicken Theology brought up for me is, how do you apply this in the darkest valley’s of your career and work? In the past two years before my current job I walked through a few of those valleys, the struggle of broken promises that would not reward me for my work, getting fired, and having a job where I felt lonely and hopeless. ¬†How do you strut your stuff in those circumstance? I asked the question and Richard’s answer was twofold as I understood it, in thinking about it I think there may be at least third option as I understand it.

Richard said first your current circumstances may be preparation for the next step.  This rang true for me because I look back on the last two years and acknowledge that I would not be currently living in such glory without all that I had gone through.  The experience humbled me, gave me fearful experiences that I persevered through, and provided tangible knowledge that assists me daily in my current job.  Learn everything you can if you are going through a hard time, examine your character, life and work for there could be something on the horizon you are completely unaware of that will be a blessing.  This answer provides hope, but the truth is like a chicken we are completely ignorant if our future date is the chopping block.  And yes I know that even for the child of God the chopping block is not the end of the story because there is greater glory beyond, but I still find this answer a part of the overall answer rather then complete.

The second answer Richard provided is that your vocation could be less then the sum total of your calling. ¬†Our callings are greater than our work, I sell therefore I am a salesperson yet I am a father, husband, churchman, and the list goes on and on. ¬†Perhaps your work is merely a platform that provides you the freedom to pursue the other callings in your life with greater glory. I have met many people in my life that this is the circumstances they live in, they are lawyers but their passion is to see the gospel forwarded in particular countries in the world like China. ¬†The short side of this answer as complete is that we were created in a garden where all aspects of life were intended to work for God’s glory, so when we set create an arbitrary distinction between our work life and home life, for instance, it is impossible to live as God intended…as a whole person. ¬†I know for me personally when my work life was hopeless it was very difficult to enjoy my time at the park with my children, most of my conversations with my wife were in tears clouded by depression. ¬†This is why I contend again that work as a platform merely for the rest of our life falls short in allowing us to live gloriously.

A third option I want to propose does not answer the question fully either. As a matter of fact I sense that used incorrectly it could be the most damaging of the the options as it is the most deterministic and could create an undeserved heavier burden on someone already struggling. This option is the most Taoist or Confucius of the options, and because of that I think it is the most practical (in touch with how the world really functions and how our role relates to that functioning).

A documentary came out recently titled,¬†Jiro dream of Sushi¬†“by David Gelb takes a look at the work and life of Jiro Ono, a Michelin three-star sushi chef who, at 85 years of age, continues to work on his craft every day at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo office building basement opposite a subway station entrance. His colleagues, his country, and at least one very knowledgeable food writer recognize him as perhaps the greatest sushi chef alive.” This description is taken from an article on¬†Lifehacker¬†by¬†Maximiliano El Nerdo N√©rdez. ¬†In the article titled Lessons We can Learn from Jiro Ono, Maximiliano encourages readers as his first point to fall in love with your work.

“Once you decide on your occupation,” says Jiro, “you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Deciding on your occupation is a challenge for we live in a society that provides the opportunity to live in reasonable comfort regardless of your job or if it is in line with your calling. ¬†The hard work is not finding a job, it is discovering calling…once your calling is discovered or rather accepted (if you are a Calvinist) then the path of occupation is more clear though it may be a difficult path. ¬†Part of my calling is as an evangelist, meant that for a time my occupation would place me circumstances to lead people to a similar vision of my spiritual practice though for most people I talked with they would not share the same vision. ¬†So I became a pastor of a church in Oakland, CA. ¬†The church had financial challenges from before I started there, attendance was poor, and it was in a city that was not necessarily supportive of the entire scope of work we were pursing. ¬†The path for me as an evangelist was not easy. ¬†Now that I am in technology services my calling as an evangelist has not changed, but the path is much easier in many ways, and the path still allows me to live out my glorious calling while dedicating myself in excellence to my occupation.

Today I want to encourage everyone, strut your stuff in front of us other chickens. If you are in a dark valley, remember your current occupation (or lack of occupation) could be a learning step, a platform for other work, or the place you have been given to dedicate yourself. ¬†Even as I write that I believe the answer is all three not merely one or another. ¬†When I worked in a church we began each service with a call to worship, and I would frame the call to worship and the entire service with these words, “The good news for those God loves is that he has the first word to us and that first word is always blessing. God loves you and has made you in his glory! The good news does not end there rather God has the first word and the last word. ¬†The last word of those God loves is also blessing, you have been delivered.” So regardless of your circumstance remember you have been created for glory and you will be delivered unto glory. Amen.

Articles

Starbucks’ amazing marketing and happy election day

In advertising,art,blogging,Blue Monster,Community,culture,design,faith,familiy,Friends,Fun,mission,politics,principles,publicity,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 6, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , ,

Living in Seattle I am very accustom to hearing people criticize Starbucks, my thoughts on the topic of coffee are that I prefer how other companies roast their beans. Therefore it is aesthetic not cynical in my critique.

ImageOne thing I am blown away with regarding Starbucks is the sophistication with their marketing. ¬†Today I am in Redwood Shores, CA working at a Starbucks before my appointments. ¬†The baristia offered me a ‘free’ bracelet that clearly has $5 donation marked on it, my defenses went up and I started trying to uncover the angel. ¬†The bracelets are for Let’s Create Jobs for USA, a campaign sponsored by Howard Schultz and others that has raised $15M and leveraged $105M, estimating 5,000 jobs created for small business in the USA. ¬†Since it is election day they are giving the bracelets away for free. ¬†This ‘gift’ took me from being someone who would never donate to the cause to someone not just interested in donating but blogging on it. ¬†Brilliant.

This is a corporation taking advantage of a term I learned from Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid, check out his article on¬†‚ÄúSocial Objects are the future of marketing.‚Ä̬†Hugh states:

The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the rea¬≠son two peo¬≠ple are tal¬≠king to each other, as oppo¬≠sed to tal¬≠king to some¬≠body else. Human beings are social ani¬≠mals. We like to socia¬≠lize. But if you think about it, there needs to be a rea¬≠son for it to hap¬≠pen in the first place. That rea¬≠son, that ‚Äúnode‚ÄĚ in the social net¬≠work, is what we call the Social Object.

I’m wearing my bracelet, talking with those around me at Starbucks about it, and will wear it to my appointments this afternoon sharing my experience. ¬†The ‘gift’ Starbucks provided me today is not only the bracelet but the opportunity to be part of a story that is larger than myself…that is impacting the world for good. ¬†This is something that we all should inspire to provide the people around us. There is a place for companies to provide something for free, if that is all you do you are not a company rather a charity (and that is good too). ¬†Starbucks used a social object to engage me on a cause but also it helps change a brand that I do not have the most favorable feelings toward.

So on this election day that is filled with disgusting shit on all sides, make a positive difference.  Inspire something larger than yourself to impact the world for good.  Perhaps it means not having the shitty conversation with someone who may think differently then you, or maybe it is something else.  Do your civic duty and vote, then go hug someone you love and let them know how grateful you are for them.