Perfectly Imperfect: Get Out?

Perfectly Imperfect
I came across this while reading for a class this week:

“I do not require my clients to be virtuous in order to continue in therapy. There would be few clients and few therapists if the standard of full moral integrity was imposed on all of us.” (Doherty, 1995)

That’s comforting, right? I mean, the reason most people seek counseling is because they are having trouble with their values, feeling, emotions, etc. So it makes sense that a counselor wouldn’t kick a client out because they’re not perfect! But the author also says there wouldn’t be many counselors either, if they were expected to be perfect. Hmm…

The church is like that… right? It should be. Could you imagine what it would be like if we had to be perfect in order to be a part of God’s family? I think sometimes we expect perfection, and we should most definitely try our best, but we’re just not. We need to stop expecting perfection out of imperfect people who just want to come worship God and have a church family to be a part of. This also goes for ministers, teachers, elders, and deacons… no person in the church, no one on this planet is perfect.

One big difference in the church and a counseling practice, is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) is perfect! But the same as an earthly counselor, he doesn’t expect us to be perfect, he understands us (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15). This isn’t an excuse to not strive to be perfect, to be like Jesus, what it is though is love. He loves us even though we’re not perfect. We need to love each other, even though we’re not perfect.

 

Doherty, W. J. (1995). Soul searching: why psychotherapy must promote moral responsibility.

Focus!

FOCUS!

If you’re anything like me, you have some trouble focusing on the current task at hand. I have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, just in case you’ve never heard of it), but I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid 30s. It was great to finally have an idea of why I had trouble finishing anything I started. It could be a household project, writing a blog post, schoolwork, work-work, etc. Pretty much anything I did, except for reading a book or watching a movie/tv would get left undone. Those only get done due to hyper-focusing, another trait of ADHD.

But you have a college degree and are working on your master’s! How can you have ADHD and be successful in school? I have a few tools in my toolbox I’ll share with you. Even though I have these tools, and they do work very well for me, I often forget to use them. Here they are (I’m not sponsored in any way by these companies).

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro TechniqueThe Pomodoro Technique is an interval time management method. It was created by Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian after the tomato shaped kitchen timer used as its icon.

Basically you work on a task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. After four sets of work, you take a longer 15 minute break. Then continue on until your task is complete. Or its lunch time. Or its time to go home…
I use the Pomodoro Timer Lite app for Android.

Brain.fm: Music for the Brain

Brain.fmBrain.fm has several tools you can use, the one I use the most is focus music. There are others like sleep, meditation, relax, etc. We’ll get to some of those in a future blog post.

There is science behind how this all works, I think I have a handle on it, but here is a link to their own explanation of it all. Basically the music has an underlying rhythm that your brain attunes to and reacts in kind. So listening to the focus station gets you focused. I find that in myself, the focus music induces hyper-focus, one way that ADHD can be beneficial.

You can try it for on the website or use the app (Android). This is one of the only apps that I’m willing to pay a subscription for because it works so well for me. Its $15.99 for 3 months. Totally worth it.

Medication

Yes, this is a great tool for you if you have ADHD. If you don’t – don’t take a stimulant! First of all, its illegal. Second, it won’t help you like you think it will. You may have energy and be able to study all night until the cows come home, but you won’t really be able to retain anything.

Having said that, how do I use this tool? I take 20mg of Adderall XR, twice a day. Its taken several years to really get this nailed down. I started on normal release Adderall, and it really worked, but it wore off too quickly for me. Then my doctor and I switched to the extended release once per day, it lasted longer, but not long enough to help with doing school work in the evening. So we revisted my prescription and started taking it twice a day, it worked great, but then I didn’t sleep well at all because it was still in my system when I went to sleep. Finally, I started a new medication schedule. I set an alarm and take my first dose at 6:00 am, then go back to sleep. I wake at normal time after that, then take my second dose 8 hours later at 2:00 pm. This lasts me until just about bed time.

Medication isn’t right for everyone, so please don’t expect results like mine just because it worked for me. My son also has ADHD and he hates taking medication, but he still does well in school and his behavior (outside the home) is great.

Counseling/Therapy

I have not been through any kind of therapy for ADHD, so this is not first hand experience. If you Google for licensed professional counselors (LPC) in your area, you’re likely to find they list things like ADHD as a specialty. From what I understand, they help you to recognize when you’re mind is straying away from your task (SQUIRREL!!), then re-frame your thinking back under control. This is really very oversimplified, but its the basic idea.

I’m sure there are many other tools out there for helping retain your focus. If you have any tools or methods please share them in the comments.

Family Defender?

Again, I find myself not posting in quite sometime. This time its been over a year! I also haven’t been using this as a personal blog like I had planned. My intention was, and is, to share my thoughts as a Christian dad but I have really only been sharing devotional thoughts. Which are great and I’m not planning to stop with those types of articles, but I also want to share my everyday thoughts and concerns as a Christian dad and husband. One long standing thought of mine is family and self defense.

I have been avoiding this topic a bit because for some reason it becomes a hot button issue. It can degrade into arguments very easily, but we’re not going to do that here. I appreciate comments and your thoughts on the issue, but I don’t appreciate rudeness or arguments for arguments sake.

As I get older and my children get older, I find myself becoming more and more aware of my responsibility to defend them. I fall into a spiral of self doubt. Am I doing enough to keep them safe? What would I do if someone tried to hurt them? How would I respond if someone tried to take my child at the grocery store or at the mall? Could I even do anything? Do I have any skills or a plan to defend them? Or even myself? As a Christian, do I even have the ability or authority, to physically defend myself or my children? Am I still a child of God if I have to hurt or kill another person to defend my wife’s, children’s, or my own life?

We will often go to the book of Luke to justify our ability and need for protection. Jesus told his apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword if they didn’t already have one (Luke 22:36), so we assume that we also have the right to protect ourselves. I think we need to be careful to apply this to ourselves, Jesus reminded them in verse 35 that before they didn’t need to take anything like gear, money, or weapons on their missions to spread news about Jesus because he, the Son of God, provided those things for them. But, after he is crucified they would be going out into the world, past the borders of Israel, without his protection. He is telling them as you go out this time you are going to need to provide these things for yourself. I’m not saying that this precludes you and I today of needing protection, but in this case he is speaking specifically to a certain group of people in their current situation.

But take a look at Nehemiah, basically a governor, and his work in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

Nehemiah 4:11-14

Some people didn’t want to see the wall rebuilt, these people liked having an unguarded city and easy prey. Evil people. These people planned to sneak in and kill indiscriminately so the wall couldn’t be completed. The friendly Jews who lived in surrounding areas warned Nehemiah, so he made sure there were armed men hiding in wait, willing and ready to do violence, to protect those who were working. Then he charged the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to fight! Why? To protect their friends, their families and themselves.

Paul wrote to Timothy that a person doesn’t provide for his family he is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Paul doesn’t specify what he means by provide, but I know my wife and I provide food, clothing, and shelter for our children. But shelter also needs safety and security, also know as defense.

But why? Why do I feel the need to defend my family? Why did Nehemiah want his people to defend themselves? Why did Jesus warn his followers they would need to take their personal safety into their own hands? Love. I love my family and want to be sure their safe – by any means at my disposal. Nehemiah loved his people, and wanted to see them safe. That included seeing them properly armed and a protective wall built. Jesus loved his followers, and he loves us, and wants to see us all safe from evil people.

John Lovell of the Warrior Poet Society has some great content about being a lover of people, willing learn how to and to do violence to protect innocent people from the evil people of the world.

Restoring a Craftsman Toolbox

A family friend gifted me a well used Craftsman toolbox. I haven’t been able to find a model number, but I guess it really doesn’t matter. I’m planning to restore it close to its former glory. I’m not a professional metal worker, so it’ll still have some bends, dents, and dings but I’m going to do the best I can. 

I plan to strip it down to bare metal, remove the underlying rust, then prime and paint as close to Craftsman red as I can get. But I am going to paint the drawers black instead of the original red. I like the way the newer Craftsman boxes have the black drawers against the red cabinets.

My only big question is: what to do about the inside of the cabinets? I’m not sure I want to strip/rust treat/prime/paint/clear the interior of the boxes. I’m afraid I may not cover all the metal and just reintroduce the rust. I may just scrub them out really good, plug the cracks and drain holes from the outside and give it a good few coats of rust reformer and call the inside good. No one will ever see the inside anyway. Then when I do the outside, I’ll seal all the openings from the inside so it won’t get stripped away.

Any one out there have an opinion on how to tackle the interior of the boxes?

Ministry Tech – Part 1

Let me start by saying am not an Apple hater! If you like Apple products, that’s great, keep using them. But they’re just not for me. Having said that, I don’t hate on you, Mr/Mrs Apple user, so please don’t hate on me for my preferences. This series of posts is not intended to bash on Apple, simply to highlight the tools that I use on the platforms that I choose to run.

At the Office

I’ll start with the tools I use in the office, both at work and at home.

Hardware

Computer: Dell Inspiron 5765 
It’s reasonably priced and has all the power I need for my day to day work. It comes installed with Windows 10 Home, which I promptly removed and replaced, but more on that later. At the office I connect it to a larger external monitor as my primary display and the laptop becomes my secondary. It sits on a stand and I also use an external keyboard and mouse. At home I just use it as is, with the addition of a wireless mouse – I dislike touchpads.

Operating System: Xubuntu 16.04 LTS (Linux)
I’m not an Apple user, but I don’t use Windows either. Xubuntu is what’s called a Linux distro (distribution), a “flavor” of Linux. Its actually based on another distro called Ubuntu, but it uses Xfce as its user interface instead of Unity that comes installed with Ubuntu, which I strongly dislike. I find Xubuntu to be extremely light weight and fast. Where Windows has always been clunky and unreliable, your mileage may vary.

UPDATE: I ran into a problem with Xubuntu a while back. The system would boot up and run, but anytime the hard drive was written to the system would crash. If this wasn’t my professional/work computer I may have worked through the issues, but since I need it to be reliable I switched back to Windows 10. It has actually surprised me quite a bit, its a huge improvement over previous versions. All other software I use remains unchanged.

Software

Using Linux does mean having to find replacements for more common applications on Windows or iOS, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as powerful, oftentimes they’re on par if not better than the more mainstream.

Most software on Linux is open source (free) just like the operating system itself is. Again, don’t let that word “free” fool you, they’re still very powerful. There are packages out there that cost, but by and large they will be open source. The developers would certainly appreciate donations if you find their software beneficial.

Bible Software: Xiphos
I like Xiphos because its just a solid performing software with great support from the developer. Its based on the Sword Project’s module system. Most of the library you can access through the Sword Project is public domain, so the materials are older and not as vast as you can get through Logos or Accordance. I have several Bible translation modules installed, all in synced tabs in the main pane of the program. When you move from tab to tab, the tabs stay synced to the same passage. Strong’s Greek and Hebrew displays in a small pane to the lower right on my “standard” translations while I usually have Clarke’s Commentary on the right side bar. You can configure the support panes based on the translation, so when I’m using the ESVS (ESV w/Strong’s Numbers) the right pane shows a larger version of Strong’s Greek/Hebrew instead of Clarke’s.

Productivity: Google Apps / Google Drive
I use Google Apps for pretty much everything document related. Its all based in Google Drive, so everything I write in Google Docs: devotionals, lessons, sermons, papers for school, etc, are all automatically saved in Google Drive. This is awesome when I’m co-teaching a class or work with other folks on material like camp or VBS, because sharing is ridiculously easy in Google Drive. I also use Google Slides for my presentations for Bible classes and sermons. Google Sheets is comparable to Excel. Importing from and exporting to other formats is great in Google Apps as well. I have exported Slides to PPT several times for sermons and only had to make minor tweaks. I generally export to PDF for school work.

There are other office type programs out there than run on the system rather than online in a browser like Google Apps. Libre Office is probably the biggest one.

Graphics: Inkscape and Gimp
Inkscape is a vector drawing program, similar to Adobe Illustrator. I use Inkscape a lot, like, a lot a lot. I use it for my presentations in Google Slides, for graphics on my congregation’s Facebook and Instagram pages, for activity flyers, for the graphics on this site, and more.

Gimp is a raster drawing program, similar to Adobe Photoshop. Most of what graphics work I do is in Inkscape, but it doesn’t print well, so I usually end up exporting to PNG from Inkscape and opening it in Gimp to print. Gimp is also far better for editing photos than Inkscape.

Desktop Publishing: Scribus
Scribus is a desktop publishing program, similar to Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher. I have been able to do most printing from Gimp, but I did design our new contact/connection cards in Scribus. I just exported them to PDF and sent them to the local printer and everything turned out great.

Those are really the big ones you’d have to get used to in a switch to a Linux environment. There are other things I use that are either the same or very similar to Windows/iOS, or are Linux specific tools that I prefer to use over the ones included in the distro I’m using.

Here are some odds and ends I use that should be familiar to most people: Google Chrome, Firefox (occasionally), Thunderbird (email), Google Earth, Audacity, VLC, FileZilla (FTP), etc.

Next time we’ll look at mobile devices and apps. 

Hats off to you, technology!

So, as I’m sure you know that working full time and having a family makes it hard to go to school at the same time. Well, I’m currently behind a few weeks (like, 5) and need to catch up quickly before I run out of time!

I’m getting to the point, I promise! This week was spring break for our kiddos. We went to Montgomery, AL and Panama City, FL to see family and friends. Each way was about a 10ish hour drive, we broke each into 2 days. I drove from Texas to Montgomery, then down to Panama City. While there, the preacher at the congregation my in-laws go to asked if my wife does all the driving now. I was a little confused and told him no, I do most of the driving. He said when he was in school his wife did the driving so he could read for his classes. Duh! She drove home.

OK, here’s the technology part. I go to an online school that uses Blackboard for assignments and I prefer e-books, so I use the Kindle app on my tablet to read. Well, you need internet for either of those to work! So, I used my phone as a WiFi hotspot, connected my tablet to it and did about 4 weeks of reading for one of my classes in 2 days. I took the quizzes for 3 of those weeks at the hotel we stayed in last night.

I could never imagine having this kind of connectivity when I was a kid! My kids are in the back seat watching DVDs while playing on their own tablets. I got to stare out the window for 8+ hours at a time when I was a kid.

Anyway, that’s my mini weekend take away. Technology.

Any of you have fun stories about technology in school or ministry (or whatever)?