Lost the Plot

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In between craziness at work, change at church, and the unknown of adoption, I have to admit that I have been thinking a lot:

  • Reassessing my career (updating my resume)
  • Trying to figure out what God is saying after my church voted 93% in favor of our interim pastor
  • Wondering how long it will take to be placed with a child (we keep hearing 2 years)

With all these swirling thoughts, I got thinking about JohnnyBGamer. I love how the site has morphed into more of a personal blog for me. I especially need a place, right now, to work through thoughts and share ideas. But I got thinking about the idea for a gaming-based ministry, God gave me long ago. An idea that never included:

  • Articles on discernment
  • Answering questions such as: Can Christians do ____________?
  • Finding a spiritual bridge between whatever game I’m playing and connecting it back to a spiritual truth (no matter how weak the link)
  • Justifying why I’m playing (insert game here)

I think I got lost somewhere between the idea of being a combo of a Christian Gamespot mixed with what would later become GameChurch. Somewhere along the way, I got wrapped up in running a Christian video game Facebook group (which I stepped down from last year) and wanting to compete with GameChurch (which has since become something else). I forgot that God never called me to be this online thing. He always has shown me that it is more about building relationships than playing games. The games are simply a gateway to making friends and having a conversation. People are the focus.

I’m not sure what any of the above means moving forward. But I am thankful to be able to put into words what has happened over the years. I lost the plot.

From Across the Net – “4 Painful Lies Stay-at-Home Moms Tell Themselves”

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Jasmine Holmes, writing from The Gospel Coalition, has a great article titled “4 Painful Lies Stay-at-Home Moms Tell Themselves“.

I’m a stay-at-home mom because I’m striving to obey God’s calling on my life. He’s given me gifts, talents, and abilities that I steward while devoting most of my time to my family. We prayerfully made these decisions for our family; they’re not a judgment call on yours.

The stay-at-home mom life doesn’t define me any more than my professional life defined me—Christ’s death on the cross does. Staying home isn’t the most important detail about me. My identity as Christ’s daughter is.

You can read more here

I’ve also written on this topic before here

It sucks to be real

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The problem with being real is that we open ourselves up to hurt. Wounds then form, mental playgrounds of the same scene played on repeat. A festering sore gnawing at the soul.

I lowered my defenses this past weekend. Decided to be real, vulnerable about where my wife and I are in life. I need a new job. For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, you’ll know that this is not a new crisis. What has changed is the depth of the situation. The situation has to change.

As a recent exercise, I sat down and wrote a list of responses to the question: What expectations do I have for my job?

  • A positive work environment.
  • The ability to grow/move up within the company.
  • To be able to make a salary where I can support my family. Annual raises of some sort. Anything but years of silence.
  • Open/clear communication on company direction.
  • The ability to learn. Even if on my own time.
  • Feedback on job performance and ways/direction on how to improve.
  • Common respect being a foundation for work relationships.

None of the above expectations are mind blowing. Yet, I had someone tell me in my moment of being open that I will never find a healthy work environment. That this somehow elusive thing does not exist. I know this not to be true based on past companies I have worked for. But the comment ate at me. I was also told that my current salary is normal. Not to expect much more. If only this person was open to a little market research.

What hurt the most about lowering my defenses, is that no one else in the group I was in have any clue of the response given. No idea that I’ve allowed discouragement to affect me before from this person. That I have veered off a track of studying due his words eating at me.

I know that I shouldn’t let words hurt me the way they do. Words have weight. Hard-wiring is hard to change.

The blank stare, the expression that casts, “he has no clue what he is doing with his life”. I’m tired of it. My college degree, my side pursuits, all beg to differ.

We might not all have the answers. I’d argue that this is part of the faith journey. This is part of my journey.

While it may suck to be real with others, authenticity is essential for both maturity and growth. So be real. Drop the shields.

The Call of the Wild Monkey

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Early in my career, I was sagely advised to immediately process any item that came across my desk. Call it a game of office hot potato. A quick turnaround time ensures that the proverbial monkey stays off ones back.

What is the Monkey?
When the ball is in your court, the monkey is on your back. The monkey is anything that clings to you and refuses to let go until completed.

How does one battle a Monkey?
Guns, lots of guns. Maybe even a bigger boat, versus a smaller one, if one wishes. The key is to face the task, do what you can do deal with it, and then send the task back into the darkest of jungles.

The Call of the Wild Monkey
Often the monkey is 100% your responsibility; other times the furry creature has been bestowed upon you by someone wishing to share their work/responsibility with you. Their stress, their monkey, quickly becomes your own bundle of screeching joy.

There is a word that can destroy the wild monkey. That word is no. Can you say it with me?

NO.

Where I Have Been/ Where I Am Going

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There comes a point where words must become actions in ones life. Failure to turn those particular words into actions will lead to those very words holding you captive; Haunting your waking thoughts with regrets of “what if” and “if I had only”. Trust me, I know.

For over five years I have worked for a company that offers me zero chance of career advancement. Short of going back to school and obtaining a degree in something I have little interest in, I simply cannot go any further in my current place of employment. I am in a way stuck due to the current job market and salary. Compound that frustration with frequent poor treatment, and you often have an irritated and sometimes depressed individual. I feel like I lost myself somewhere when I was told in a mocking tone, “this is so easy a third grader could do this”. Whatever level of college graduate optimism died within me the day those words were uttered. In my mind, I had become another worthless cog in the system, one that could be replaced on a whim. Reality had drop kicked me at the door.

Sometime last year, shortly after my Grandma died, I came up with a plan to move forward. I excitedly told others about this plan and began to set it into motion. I was going to go into web/graphic design. In the midst of the frustrations of learning/ moving toward my goal (acquire skills, get hired), I abruptly quit. I learned that letting go of a new found dream is easy when you lack the will to really work towards it. In a way, I hadn’t quite hit rock bottom yet. I was still comfortable pressed up against the glass ceiling of my job. What I needed was some fresh perspective, some truth spoken into my life. Little did I know that an email, a link, and a purchase were about to radically shift my way of thinking.

One morning, I received an email from Dave Ramsey. Well not a personal email but an email from his site. A link and a click later, I found myself reading about a book entitled Quitter. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this book was about to change my perspective and my life.

Quitter, by Jon Acuff, is all about pursuing your dreams while remaining firmly planted in your day job. Your day job, no matter how terrible it may be, provides a firm financial foundation for you to move towards what you want to do with your life. Truthfully, I had never thought of my job in this way. I had always seen it as something that brought in a paycheck, that had to be endured.

Jon Acuff goes even further in talking about how your attitude in your current place of employment will carry over into your future job. In other words, practice today the attitude you want for yourself in the future. This was a revelation for me.

The Bible talks about how Christians need to be faithful in the small things:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10 (NIV)

Which got me thinking about my attitude and how I needed to be thankful for all that God has given me. This has required me to shift my perspective, which I admit is not always easy. It is easier to give into the norm and not rise above it.

In the midst of God working on my perspective, He also reminded me of my web/graphic design dream. I was finally ready for it. Almost a year after I first set out to change my career, I was finally in the right frame of mind to pursue it.

Two weeks ago, I started on the first phase of “moving forward”. I began working once more on redoing my churches web site. I have set rewards in place to help me achieve my goals. I have also limited the distractions in my life (video games) that I felt were keeping me from working hard.

My goal right now is to finish the church web site, show the church what I’ve done, and give them a list of possible hosting options for the site. Then, I’m going to find a new project and continue working/refining my web/graphic design skills.

Changing our perspective is hard. Words must become actions; actions must become a lifestyle.

  • What dreams and ideas do you have that you keep putting on the back burner for later?
  • What do you need to change so that you can move forward?

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. Thanks!

Career Ambitions: Part 1

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Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your Life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t. -Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann

Best road trip ever.

When I was in elementary school, I wrote in my yearbook that I wanted to be a horse trainer. At the time, I was taking horse back riding lessons- I learned to ride bareback- and thought that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My passion for the American West and my constant consumption of Louis L’Amour novels further fueled this childhood dream.

Our career ambitions seem to change with age and the overall passage of time. By high school, I was convinced that I wanted to work as a killer whale trainer at Sea World. My love for the ocean, deep sea exploration,  and the thought of living a laid back lifestyle in San Diego pushed me to actually check into this position. In my research, I learned that you have to be a certified scuba diver as well as an amazing swimmer. A degree in marine biology or psychology would also help with the selection process. Three things pushed me away from this potential field however:

  1. I am not the greatest swimmer.
  2. Outside of being a Sea World trainer, a degree in marine biology pays next to nothing. The only person I knew at the time, with a degree in marine biology, worked in a hazardous materials department due to pay.
  3. I took a marine biology class at the junior college and barely passed. The class ate my lunch! The only reason I ended up passing was due to a girl I was sitting next to. Thankfully, she could easily follow along and was more than willing to help me. Lesson learned: Always sit next to the smart one.
Now I won’t lie, whenever I visit Sea World I still want to work there. Maybe not as a killer whale trainer but in some sort of deep sea explorer capacity. They have a department for that, right?

Surf Report – 12/7/09

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Welcome to a Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

What does it mean to be a man?

Mark Driscoll believes that the transition from boyhood to manhood is marked by the following 5 events:

1. Leave your parents home.

2. Finish education/ vocational degree.

3. Start a career-track job vs. a dead-end job.

4. Meet/ marry a woman.

5. Have children.

My thoughts:

  • Not everyone is “called” to marry.
  • I agree that no transitional event marks when one becomes a man.
  • There is nothing wrong with marrying later in life.
  • Being single does not equal being irresponsible.
  • Playing videogames/ interest in videogames is not a sign of immaturity. Videogames are as valid as a hobby as sports. (I agree when Mark speaks of how dumb it is when people throw their lives away playing videogames.)

Your thoughts?

.: Life :

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

.: Gaming :

Recently Syp over @ Bio Break had a great post that outlined a year of free-to-play MMO’s. This got me thinking, why not play an MMO a week? Sounds like the ultimate MMO tourist challenge to me! As you might have guessed from the header above, I have decided to play Maple Story this week. Time for some quirky Korean fun! Thoughts and comments will be shared in next week’s Surf Report (12/14/09). Stay tuned.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!