Planting Seeds

Over the weekend I planted some seeds and cleaned the porch but now I wait.  I wait for the seeds to sprout, I planted some grape, pomegranate and cherry seeds, as well as two different bulb type plants I found as well.  Why did I do this?  I guess because I like planting seeds to see if I can grow something from scratch.  I like the hope it produces as I plant and wait to see if I will experience any growth.  In a few weeks I’ll plant my summer seeds as well; peppers, onions, corns, lettuce and radishes all in hope of growing (and eating) some of our own veggies this summer.

Well as I was resting on the porch from my planting, something came to mind about ministry and it has to do with planting seeds as well.  I was challenging myself to “plant” seeds of ministry then this morning I expanded that thought to include seeds of revival.  So consider if Galations 6 says that we will reap what we sow the question what are we sowing (or planting).  We can only reap what we plant and spend time watering.  So the question is as I’m starting a new ministry what kind of “seeds” am I planting that will produce fruit in the years to come.  Also I can only reap if I plant, if I don’t plant anything I won’t reap anything or worse yet I’ll probably reap weeds.  I’m notorious for not planting anything, I mean… I want to… I think about it, but never actually put seeds in the dirt or if I do it tends to be later in the year than it should be like my pumpkins that were ready for Thanksgiving not Halloween.

So planting in this case can mean two things 1) actually planting seeds and 2) planting the right seeds.  If I start off right I will plant the right seeds at the right time and know what I’m planting and do so purposefully.  I won’t be planting pumpkins in September if I want them by the end of October.  Like wise I don’t want to plant them too soon either or plant my summer veggies before the last frost of spring it could be tricky.  But on the other hand I can not plant anything at all or not prepare the soil properly and thus miss out on a great harvest come summer time.

So what kind of seeds are you planting?  As I already planted some tree seeds for this year I have both situations before me.  I have some long term seeds planted and I am waiting to plant my seasonal seeds soon.  Similarly I have already planted some ministry seeds but need to plant some more and I have some that I am yet to plant.  What I plant and how I plant is going to be important and have a direct effect in years to come.  So I know what I need to do, what about you? What do you need to plant and how do you need to plant them.  Is there fallow ground that needs broken up or weeds that need pulled?  Only you can answer those questions but answer them you must or you may find yourself harvesting pumpkins under the Christmas tree.


What’s blocking your view?

As I sit here on the couch I have a view of the kitchen clock on the stove.  This is where I sit most mornings to do my devotions. Sometimes I can’t see the clock clearly because there is stuff on the counter between the living room and the kitchen that blocks my view.  Today was one of those mornings.   I like to be able to look up from my reading to just see the time so I know how much longer I have before I have to get ready for work.
Today I didn’t have to get ready for work and church was still a while off, so there wasn’t any pressing reason why I needed to see the clock, but I couldn’t see it none the less.  It wasn’t like I couldn’t see at all I just had to lean to one side or the other in order to see it clearly.
So I got up and made my coffee and came back and sat down, and looked up at the clock to see what time it was but had to lean to see it.  This bugged me because it had been there before and I had forgotten to move the stuff when I was up making my coffee.  So now what do I do I was feeling comfortable just drinking my coffee and settling in to start a new book, but I was bugged that I it was inconvenient to see the clock.  So after a few moments of frustration and wondering if I should just get up and move it I finally decided to do so.  So I got up and moved the bag that was sitting on the counter blocking my view.  Triumphant I sat back down and got ready to read when I looked up to see the clock I realized that it was still blocked – perfectly blocked… by the sugar dispenser that I had set on the counter while making my coffee.  Now this dispenser was the perfect size just wide enough to block the width of the time and just tall enough that I had to rise up to see over it.
After a moment of additional frustration I realized the futility of my ire and how ironic it was as well.  Then I realized the un-proportional emphasis I put on time while doing my “devotional time” in the morning and had to repent, and laugh and cry.
So then its like God spoke to me and said what is really blocking your view?  What is blocking my view of the cross?  It could be something simple like a clock or something bigger like a sin.  If I’m not careful I can let even the smallest of things block my view of the cross and his fullness that comes from knowing Him.   In this case I was allowing my concern for the time to cloud my view of Jesus or time spent with him.
So what is it that is blocking our view and how do we deal with it.  In my case I need to get up and move the sugar dispenser (which I haven’t yet, its there as a reminder as I write this)  but I will.  But in my case the clock it the actual distraction not the sugar.  The clock is keeping me from spending the quality time I need to as it “regulates” my time with Jesus not help it.  It doesn’t allow for deeper involvement or familiarity which is one of my goals this year.  So here are three steps to removing what’s blocking you:
and remember:
Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah

A New Challenge

Something has been on my mind for a while now and I haven’t been quite sure what to do with the thought.  That something is Syria.  The situation in Syria has been on my mind for over two years now (you can check some of my videos from 2013).  Especially the plight of the christian minority in the country.  This past week I watched a live webcast from the GC2 Summit it was a gathering of christian leaders discussing what to do about the refugee crisis currently facing world leaders primarily Europe and the Middle East.

The size of the problem is enormous the cause is worthy but what to do?  I was brought to tears by the video of the lifeless body of the toddler on the beach and then the image of lifeless bodies floating in the water as a victims of crossing the Mediterranean sea.  One presenter stated that over 3000 immigrants a day were entering into Greece at one point.  At some points I was just listening sometimes I watched.  But what I took away from the webcast was the need to step up and do something.  What that something is I have yet to figure out but I am setting a goal to do something this year, it may be small but hopefully it will make some kind of difference to someone.  The whole situation brought to mind a story I once heard at the YMCA it goes something like this:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he came upon a cove where the beach was covered with star fish that had washed up on the shore.  As the waves rolled in more starfish continued to wash up on the beach.  The man bent over, picked one up and threw it back into the ocean.  This went on for some time when a younger man came along the beach.  He stopped and watched the man pick up a star fish and throw it back into the water but he also saw as the waves continued tossing more star fish on beach. This went on for quite some time, finally he couldn’t stand it any longer he approached the man and asked what he was doing. 

“Sir” he said “you know that for every star fish you throw back into the ocean 100 more wash up on the beach?” 

The man turned and looked at the youth but said nothing.

“Why are you wasting your time?” he insisted, ” It just doesn’t matter.”    The man bent over picked up another star fish and threw it back into the ocean.  Then he turned to the young man and said “It matters to that one.”

It may seem that the issue is so large that nothing matters but even the smallest effort can make the difference to one.  In the next few weeks I’ll be exploring different options I can take to help make a difference in this huge problem…one starfish (person) at a time.

2016 Update

Well I’m about 4 months into my re-invent project and I realized a few of things.

I’m busier than I thought I was.

Learning something new is not as easy as it sounds.

I don’t have to learn as deeply as I originally thought.

So that being said lets take a look at each of these.

I’m busier than I thought.  Yes well duh. But I knew that going into this little experiment, but as usual I under estimated the extent of what I was doing and over estimated my ability to juggle it all.  I started well and with great intentions, but life got the best of me but I have learned some valuable things in the process and some interesting stuff as well as refined what I should learn.

Learning something new is not always as easy as it seems.  I jumped right in and signed up for a free on line course (that was the idea right).  I quickly learned that I was in over my head, so I signed up for a more basic course just so I could begin to understand the course that was on the list to study.  In the process of the new (lower) course I realized that I don’t think the way the language I was trying learn does.  I was over thinking it and it was really a lot simpler than I was making it.  So it;s not always easy to retrain your mind to think differently.

In the process of following my list I found a lot of interesting stuff through some of the articles and blogs I was reading.  Some things that led me down a similar but different path.  So in the process I learned that what I was trying to do, or what I might be good at does not require all of the technical learning I was trying to put myself through.  Basically I’m a front end user not a back end programmer and their are a lot of basic programs or tools that are already readily available.  If I simply spent some time learning or mastering those tools it would put me in a good position to help most small to medium business or non-profit which was my original goal.

So, what I’ve done is adjusted my original goals to include learning some of those tools instead of the deeper programming languages, I’ll leave that to the experts.  I’m still following through with the process (that was one of the original challenges) and trying to be flexible along the way to see what new avenues it will open up.  I’ll continue to report back as we move toward the end of the experiment.

But what about you.  It’s the start of a new year.  What goals have you set for yourself what new thing are you going to learn this year?  If you don’t set the goal you won’t start.  If you don’t start you won’t learn.  But if you do start it may open up a whole new arena of ideas that you hadn’t considered before starting.  And that new idea may lead to something truly exciting.  But it requires that you set a goal and get started.  So what new thing are you going to learn?  The choice is yours.

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Day ….25?

Okay, so I’ve been at it for about a month now and I can’t say I’ve done a lot but I am making progress.  Or moving forward it is a slow process.  But in the process I’ve run across other interesting stuff to look into, not different stuff but topics that are associated but not in the actual main stream of “pure” data science.

Which I like and also leads me to my main point tonight.  Just start moving. Get started.  You have an interest or skill that you want to learn more about DO IT.  It’s been said that it’s a lot easier to steer a moving car than a parked one.  By taking that initial step you may be opening the door to a whole new world of adventure and exploration and fulfillment.

So pick a topic and start learning you don’t know what awaits around the next turn until you start moving to be able to get there.


Day two – or what has happened since day one

So I’ve told a couple more friends you know the more the merrier they seemed to think it was a good idea to learn something new.  I’ve also singed up for an account on Data Science Central as well as followed their twitter feed.  I’ve read a couple articles and found an interesting site about data journalism so things are getting more exciting as we move along.



Day One

So I started today on my #reinventproject.  Using Zeeshan’s guide I created a basic checklist for myself to follow over the next 6 months.  Then I made a copy for a friend to keep me accountable because goals without accountability and action are just ideas.  Now all I need is follow through hopefully I’ll be posting more of what I learn on a regular basis, so check back often to follow any progress.



Reinvent Project

I started a little project, well actually I’m going to start it by committing to it here with this post. Recently I started thinking about the economy and the direction it is or isn’t going. Further I realized that there is not really such a thing as job security. With that in mind I started thinking if I was let go from my job or if I decided it was time to move on what would I do? I’ve toyed around with various ideas for years including coaching, grant writing and teaching to name a few..but this idea is a new one.

I was going through my Evernote account recently and I noticed that I had noted various references to data science articles not sure why I started, probably as a reference for the career exploration class I was teaching.  So I decided to click on one just to check it out.  It took me to Data Science Central, which I thought “nice site” but there’s a lot of stuff on here where do I start and why?  The article I clicked on was a info-graphic about Data Science 2015: What’s hot and What’s Not it was kind of a what’s in and where they are heading in the next few years.  I thought interesting I’ll have to come back later and check out more.

So last week I was working on a report for one of our grants and as I was crunching numbers (by hand) I was actually enjoying myself collecting data from various reports and cross checking them with others reports.  I found myself asking various questions that kept taking me further in my research.  Some questions I just couldn’t answer, we just didn’t have the data because we hadn’t collected it.  After finishing the report I felt good about what I had done with limited information and thought to myself how we could begin collecting the proper information.

Now back to Data Central.  That night I put two and two together and realized that what I was doing on a limited scale is what data science does on a bigger one.  So I took a second look.  That led me to how to become a data scientist for free …my kind of post!  The author lists out (I like lists) a bunch of places where I can get information about data science and sharpen my skills for free (and I like free too).  So I’ve bookmarked the list and and I’m going to use it to create my own timeline and checklist for completing his suggestions.  He suggests it will take between 3-12 months to complete, I’m aiming for 6-8.  If after those handful of months I still haven’t completed it I haven’t really lost anything, I will have at least a new set of basic skills and some understanding of a field that is growing in popularity and usefulness.

So I’m on my way.  I bought some statistic books at a thrift store (see the pic above) and I’m using the hashtag and category #reinventproject to post updates.  I’m not really reinventing myself just adding a new skill set so it’s probably not the best description but that’s what I started with so I’ll stick with it for now.  Who knows maybe in the process I will reinvent myself or at least have fun trying.

Keep on swimming

The girl pictured in the above photo is my niece, Samantha.  Pictured with my beautiful wife.  Samantha is nine:

On Saturday she just swam a mile

in the ocean

after running a mile.

What did you do on Saturday?  Most kids her age (and probably most adults) were not thinking of running a mile let alone swimming one, but she did.  I am very proud of her.  I think that is a feat for someone her age.  I think it’s a feat for someone my age.  But it just goes to show what you can do when you set your mind to it, have someone encouraging you, and practice everyday to get better.  Oh and by the way she also jumped off the pier.

I came in on the tail end of this experience, she has been participating in Newport’s Jr. Life Guard program all summer (4 weeks so far).  So she has been swimming everyday, practicing when she is at home, eating right, and building up to this experience.  I’m sure when she started this summer she probably couldn’t have done what she did Saturday.  But she set a goal and daily worked to achieve it.

What is it in your life that seems insurmountable?  What is that one thing that you wish you could do but were afraid to start?  Now is the time today is the day.  Set a goal to accomplish it before the end of the year.  Then daily set a smaller goal to work towards that bigger goal.  Before you know it you will have achieved that goal and setting new ones for the new year and the process continues.

So back to my original question what did you do this Saturday?  Better yet what are you going to do next Saturday?  Let it be the start of something new it’s never too late.


Watering by hand

I had a neighbor who lived across the street when I was younger his name was Jim.  He was married to Louise who had been a friend of the family for years.  She had always lived in the house across the street even when my grandparents had lived in our house and my mom was growing up.  In fact my mom grew up with Louise’s daughter.  Louise taught me how to play Chinese checkers (which has proved useful later in life) and Jim taught me how to water the yard… by hand.

Jim had an immaculate yard it was nicely cut to a certain height, trimmed around the edges and green.  Very green.  And well it should be, he was out there every evening watering his yard with the garden hose.  He would stand there and meticulously water making sure every inch got enough water to make it through the next day’s heat.  One day Jim and Louise were going on vacation and Jim wanted to hire me to take care of his lawn.  Mow it and water it each day for two weeks!  I quickly agreed watering a yard can’t be that hard.  Right?

First he instructed me how he wanted his lawn mowed.  It had to be done with a back and forth pattern not around in squares like we did ours, basically in strips so each line went the same way.  Then he showed me how to water the lawn which would take about 45 minutes if done right.  45 minutes to water the grass and I have to stand out there the whole time!?  Can’t I just hook up a sprinkler it would be easier.  If I remember right it had a similar back and forth motion (similar to a sprinkler) make sure not to stay in one place for too long, it was just as important that it not be watered too much as too little. Make sure you go around the tree don’t just stand in one spot because you’ll miss the back side of the tree and same thing with the bird bath make sure you water behind it and rinse the top for the birds.

The back yard was easier I could just turn on the sprinkler but it had to be moved around so while I watered the front I had to monitor the back sprinklers as well.  I survived those two weeks and got paid for my work.  There were other times as well so I must have done it correctly.  Eventually I was paid to mow the lawn each week as Jim got older and wasn’t able to do it himself.  But why do I remember this random watering lesson some 40 years after the fact?  Well probably because the valve on my sprinklers broke awhile back and I haven’t replaced it yet.  I’ve been watering my lawn by hand with a sprinkler.  But I’m not consistent and I don’t normally get the sprinkler in the right spots to cover the whole yard.  Thus I have dead spots, in the corners, behind the tree, and well watered spots where I’ve left it run for too long (don’t tell the water police).

I’ve contemplated watering by hand but I don’t have the time for that, but then I remembered my watering lesson with Jim and it brought back fond memories.  I should make the time it would probably be a nice time to just slow down a bit and enjoy the evening and help maintain a green lawn in the process.  I may never achieve the perfect lawn like Jim’s but maybe in the process I might achieve a more relaxed posture, develop some consistency and have some time to meditate on the more important things in life.  Just a thought.