Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jeremiah 45

One last thought on this issue of being confronted by God on the direction of my life and I am done:

"The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:  ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”’
 “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’” - Jeremiah 45:  1-5

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On Understanding God's Will - And Not Liking It

A follow-up on yesterday's Post A Cold Splash Of Reality:

I think the most difficult - or maybe from my perspective, shocking - of yesterday's confrontation with my actual reality is the focus of where the direction came from.  I like to think that I am called to a great many things, none of the related to what I currently do.  God, apparently, feels rather strongly that I am called - at least currently - to very specifically what I do.

Therein lies the rub, of course.  I hear of people being called and people living out their calling and like to think "Hey, that is for me too!".  They may very well be living out their calling - just as I am being called to live out mine.  The difference is that my apparent calling and my desires are radically different.

This would seem to be where the moment of tension comes.  Do I follow the calling that I see God giving me - and by "follow" I mean dedicate myself to it as strongly as I would to anything that I really desired?  Or do I begrudgingly do the minimum, trying to wait God out in hopes that He suddenly changes His mind and relents - "Wow, TB. You are right and I am wrong.  I totally agree that you should be doing X."

That is the most difficult part:  to give one's self 100% to His revealed will as eagerly as I would give myself to something I would prefer a great deal more.  To make myself as careful a student and practitioner of what I do as a career as I would of being a writer on the way up or a farmer building a sustainable venture or a theologian preparing a sermon.  These, all of them, seem to have impacts and influences and meaning beyond the actions and acts themselves.  Sadly, becoming a student and practitioner of Quality is to become an expert in government regulations and nuances of applications, something which neither seems to have significant impact nor influences (Quality being like the transmission of your car:  you only miss it when it stops working).

But if I am completely, totally, bitterly, 100% honest, this seems to be what I am being told.

I am trying to adjust my schedule, my reading, my studies, and my practices around this.  To head into the storm front of a wealth of information that seems almost trivial in the great scope of things is turning out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done.

There is another aspect that I am coping with as well:  the active surrender of hope.

To embrace the will of God (at least as I currently understand it) is to let go of the hope that it will all change.  Can it change?  Of course - in an instant.  But can is not the same as will.  And setting one's self always to hope for the thing that may never occur is to try and bridge a canyon that is continuing to move apart.

I will still do the things I love, of course - iai, gardening, writing (even if only here), and the 40 other things I fill my life with.  It is just that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I am admitting that those things will never be more than they are: hobbies, amateur activities that I can grow better at but only enjoy in my off hours.  My path, it appears, lies in the very direction I have been trying to escape from all this time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Cold Splash Of Reality

God has a funny way of  getting my attention sometimes.

Why, not even two days ago I was working on my goals for next year.  I was feeling confident.  I was feeling in charge.  I had the year mapped out with confidence and aplomb.

And then, yesterday, found out that I had dropped the wrong ball.  I kept a number of them up in the air, but not one that I needed to.  Just like that, I came crashing back down to reality.

The rather unhappy truth is that - for right now - every other plan hinges rather tremendously on my bringing in an income. Any plans I might have - no matter how glorious or high minded or exciting or even fun - pretty much fall apart instantly the moment that my income is not what it is now.  Yes, I am trying to work on the situation but yes, nothing I am looking at is even close to what I would need to keep everything going at the moment.

So I went back to my goals tonight, and "deferred"  (really axed) a bunch of them.  My career, at least the one I do right now, figures rather highly in activities for the coming year. 

It is hard.  It is as if God is pushing my focus back to the here and now, to the reality I am and the things right in front of my nose.  It makes me scared, because I cannot afford to mess this up.  And then it makes me angry, because I feel as if this is all that there is and I am being asked abandon all hope of life being other that what it has been (more or less) for the last 20+ years.

In other words, I guess I am being asked to trust and have faith.  In  a future that seems as unattainable and far away as Alpha Centauri.


Monday, December 11, 2017

On Bitcoin

So Bitcoin apparently is either the new thing or the next Tulipmania.

To be fair, I do not understand Bitcoin, or cryptocurrencies in general.  I read a bit on Blockchain today and maybe think I get that, but maybe not.  I read up on Cryptocurrencies as well - sadly, again not getting it.

I am not overly concerned about it, of course - I went through my "get rich quick" phase 13 years ago and after missing out on the real estate boom (and bust), have pretty much relegated myself to the world of save and invest - not just in stocks and bonds, mind you.  Land and the ability to provide food have value as well.

I understand the attraction, of course:  skyrocketing value, non-governmental control (a big plus for me), and the ability to "earn" (apparently) on your own (e.g. "mining").  And apparently it is becoming a thing because more and more businesses are accepting them, which suggests that it is a trend to stay.

In moments like these, I always bear in mind Warren Buffet's advice:  "Do not invest in anything you do not understand".  Which sounds pedestrian, I know.  But I would rather be pedestrian and keep my smaller gains than be cool and lose larger ones.  I tried that, once. 

Never again.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Snow!

So we had a rare event in our clime - not anything to compare to Reverend Paul in Alaska or Rain and Kymber in Canada, but snow none the less!


My garden fence is not a great protection from the elements:


Rain, I have two lemons.  Let us see if they make it.



The backyard has a blanket of sorts:



And the lavender is covered:


My Christmas lights have actual snow!  



Two days ago it was 80 F and I was wondering how my dry my grass was.  Not an issue now:



Snow and tree trunk:




It will all melt by tomorrow of course, and for us freezing and ice is the real danger.  Still, it is nice to get a little bit of a White Christmas.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Keeping Work About Work

So one thing the recent run of news headlines and social events has me thinking about is how I act at work.

I would argue I am hardly inappropriate - although to be fair, I probably have not been as well behaved as I should have been (we can always do better).  But I fear we are rapidly approaching the day where almost anything can be construed in an unfortunate manner.

So to wit, how should anyone - male or female - now act at work?

I do not know that I have all the answers.  I do have some suggestions though.

1)  Interactions at work need to be about work:  Limit your talk to work related items.  Personal things, such as perhaps what you did this weekend or even how your child is doing, might be okay - but I would not recommend it.  Even those innocuous sorts of conversations may eventually lead to something else.  If only work is being discussed, you never have to remember what else you talked about.

(One potential question here is what, if any, personal effects one should have in the workplace.   This is another thing I have been evolving my thinking on.  Over time, I am dropping down the number of personal items I have at work.  I anticipate having virtually nothing of a personal nature in the not too distant future).

2)  When at work, work: Do not talk.  Do not socialize.  Work.

3) Any sort of physical contact, of course, is right out:  Arguably, shaking hands upon meeting someone for the first time (and upon their leaving) will probably remain a business norm (although I wonder if the Asian custom of bowing comes into vogue.  No risk of contact at all).  Beyond that, I cannot think of reason - beyond, say, someone choking - that such a thing would be necessary.


4)  Discussions need to be in the open:  Ideally, have meetings with a glass window or door so that you are visible at all times.  If in a group meeting where this is not possible, say as little as possible.  Taking notes is not a bad idea either.

5)  Do not take work outside of work:  There is a high risk that happy hours and parties - really, anything involving alcohol and coworkers - ends uncomfortably or badly.  Friends and family are for weekends and evenings and holidays, coworkers are for work.  (I suppose one question arising out of this would be if you can have friends that start as work acquaintances and grow out of that.  20 years of industry experience tells me no.  In this day and age, work friendships seem to revolve a great deal more around proximity than truly shared interests.  Sure, you may continue to connect through social media or business organizations and wish each other Happy Birthday when prompted by Facenovel.  But it is the rare person I talk to two years after leaving a job, let alone fifteen.).

Looking at the list, you might come to believe that what I am proposing is a sort of monastic, silent worker that speaks as minimally as possible and creates a workplace that is somewhat joyless and soulless.  I do not know that that is quite what I am thinking of - after all, even in the most serious of environments there is some level of "fun" involved.  But I think, at least for myself, I am going to end up becoming a lot more like this.  For two reasons:

1)  It is just more efficient and accomplishes more work.

2)  It eliminates any potential weakness for future accusations (never create a weakness for an enemy).

I am sure that for whomever implements such protocols as these (or for some event things more drastic), questions will inevitably arise about why I am acting this way or if I even have a personal life and family..   My response - the only logical response - has to be "I keep my work life and my personal life completely separate".

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Little Drummer Boy

I have always loved the song "The Little Drummer Boy".

Yes, I understand it is completely extra-biblical and we have not a shred of evidence for it and yes, I know that the Christmas celebration went on for hundreds of years without it.  I still love it.

I love it on two levels.  On one level, it is a very good message, not just about the birth of Christ (always a very god message) but also about the power of giving what one has.  On the other level, I love the song as written: it has a very distinctive beat, one that is instantly recognizable.

When driving home a few days ago, I suddenly heard a version I had not heard before.  It took me a bit of searching to find it turns - turns out it is For King and Country's live version.  I enjoyed it so much, I thought I would share.


Please click below: