How far away is your mission field?

I don’t read a lot of magazines.  Not because I don’t like reading them, it’s more about buying a pricey publication that I’m supposed to throw away (recycle) once I’ve finished reading it.  I’m not sure if it’s my hoarder tendencies or my desire to not be wasteful that keeps me from discarding these disposable print pieces, but I find myself keeping them.  Recently, I received a free copy of Reject Apathy while attending a conference.

The cover stories quickly grabbed my attention.  I decided to make a little time to leaf through it, looking for anything that might interest me.  As it turns out, the whole magazine was intriguing. I couldn’t put it down.  These people know how to write articles for ADHD people!  I have the attention span of a gnat, but I was completely sucked into this publication.  One article in particular rocked my world: Post-Missions Cynicism by Curt Devine (read the full article).  He put into words everything I thought and felt after my first mission trip, but never myself tried to identify.

“The conflict between excess at home and scarcity abroad is a lot to handle. The temptation can be to hate America’s abundance, or forget the poverty overseas and go back to life the way it was before. The key is living within the tension.” — Curt Devine

The article is about living in the tension between the excess of our American culture and the scarcity experienced in our mission fields.  His abroad covers a good portion of the planet.  My abroad doesn’t span as far, but does it need to?  I feel the same way he does when I return from an orphanage in Mexico.  I also feel this way when I get home from volunteering at the homeless shelter that’s 15 miles away.

How can I come back from seeing a world in need and be okay with my big air-conditioned house filled mostly with things I don’t need?  How can I go to sleep at night lying on my safe, cozy bed, set with my perfect sleep number and not think about people that don’t even have a bed?  I heard Kay Warren speak several years ago about how she’s been ruined.  As Kay says, she used to be fun at parties, but now all she can talk about is the AIDS crisis.  She witnessed this horrible epidemic first hand, but upon going home, she couldn’t forget it.  I guess I’ve been ruined, but ruined by the epidemic of poverty and homelessness.  Continue reading

If it’s the thought that counts, think about it.

I wasn’t going to do much blogging on holiday shopping, but people keep asking me what kind of stuff I’m buying for Christmas gifts or what are good gifts to give that give back to people in need?  So here it is… my brain dump on Christmas shopping.  Yes, I call it Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping.  I suppose we could also call it Black Friday shopping.  It seems as though that’s become a bigger holiday than the actual Christmas holiday we’re shopping for.

Now that I think about it, these principals could apply all year long and to any holiday where it is customary to give a gift.  Birthdays and Christmas are the two big ones.

So what gift shopping is considered good?  Shopping in and of itself is not bad, it’s some of the things associated with it that are bad.  Debt is bad.  Buying gifts for people you don’t want to buy gifts for because you’ve succumbed to the cultural purchasing pressure is bad.  Buying people stuff they don’t want or need is bad.  Spoiling kids with a bunch of stuff they don’t need is bad.  If it’s the thought that counts, then let’s think about it.  There are many positive ways to shop, supporting good for humanity, the environment and for your pocketbook.

Service, not stuff.

You might believe our country is using up most of our planets’ resources and you might be trying to lower your carbon footprint as much as possible, or you might even think that’s all an bunch of hype.  No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, buying services versus physical goods is, well, all around good.  Why?

  • You’re supporting a skill or a trade.
  • You’re helping the economy without physical stuff.
  • You don’t have to worry if the recipient likes your gift, and the best part? No looking around their house to make sure they’re using the item you gave them and no getting your feelings hurt when they tell you the dog broke it.
  • Maybe the gift recipients will get this concept too, then they won’t give you anymore giant golf ball candles, Chia pets or Santa figures that poop candy.
  • Most service places have gift cards or gift certificates.
  • It takes less time to shop because you can shop at places you do business while everyone else is in line at W*%#@!t.
  • There’s a better chance they’ll have a need for a service than a need for more stuff.  If you need something, or even want something, you go buy it, right?  Why would your giftees be any different?  Well, they could be unemployed.  If that’s the case, they have needs, not wants.

So what are good services to buy?  There are many choices here, some more practical than others.  Some of these services could be provided by you, which means no cost to you other than your time.   Continue reading

rethinking good in frisco style magazine

Thanks so much to Frisco Style Magazine for rethinking good in their August 2011 arts issue.  No retail shopping for one year has proven to be a great way to rethink no only shopping, but the way we live life.  Here’s a few of the blog posts related to the article if you would like more details.  Thanks again for rethinking good!

What is the no retail shopping challenge? [info]

Back to school [day 58]

School supply update [day 83] 

To Infiniti and beyond! [day 175]

Airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

My new minimalist challenge [day 266]

Cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

Do you share your household budget with your kids? [day 337]

Continue reading

must… fill… shelves.. [day 329]

I bought an ebook yesterday.  I never really set any challenge rules around electronic media, so I thought I would share my though process around this purchase.

I bought the ebook Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I’m well aware that I own enough print books to build a small house if I wanted to, but I really wanted this book.  A friend of mine gave me a couple of devotionals out of it, devotionals that were not only perfect for me those days, but in a short ADHD format.

So I could have bought a used copy of this book in print, so why did I go electronic?

Cost savings. Including shipping, a used copy of this book cost more than the new print one and more than the electronic version.  Although the challenge of no retail shopping had nothing to do with money, it’s been a nice benefit.

Environmental savings. No words printed on dead trees.  So I have some mixed feelings here.  I like printed books.  I like to hold them, feel them, smell the ink and paper, but most important, I like writing in them.  The electronic version takes away these things, or in some way, changes them.  I can highlight, take notes, look up words and phrases, but it’s limiting.  The juxtaposition here is I still have to own a device to view the ebooks and it still takes electricity to run these devices.  Not sure which is better.  A future blog post?  More than likely.

Empty bookshelf. This is where I get weird.  It was driving me crazy to have the ‘digitally empty’ bookshelf.  My hope is to write a book at the end of this challenge, not just a book about the experience, but a take-action book.  I also had the desire to do an extreme shelf makeover, as this oak bookcase is not working for me.  Does this make me a digital hoarder?  I believe they designed this empty bookshelf for people like me that will want to fill it up with books.  I don’t have any empty bookshelves in my house, why would I have a digital one?

All in all, I’m loving the book.  And my kids love the electronic devices a little too much, so I think I’ll get them the kids ebook Jesus Calling for Kids.  After all, they use my electronic devices more than I do… most of the time.  😉

What are your thoughts on electronic media versus print media? I didn’t buy a physical thing, I bought an electronic file.  It feels a little odd.

I didn’t buy it, but I wanted to [day 292]

I met Guy Kawasaki yesterday at a book signing.  Not only is he an extremely talented communicator and writer, he’s just a really nice person.  Just look on Twitter, hashtag #guykawasaki, and you’ll see what I mean.  Now I’ve been thinking, it’s kind of odd to go to a book signing without a book.  Knowing that he would be at SXSW, I decided to go to the used book store to find his new book.  I knew my chances were slim to none on finding his new book Enchantment, but I thought maybe I could find one of his older books.  I’ve been following Guy for a long time on friendfeed and he always has great stuff out there.

I had to go to a few locations before I found one of his books.  I found The Art of the Start. I bought it and I was happy that I would have a book for him to sign, although I wondered what I would say to him as I asked him to sign my not-so-new book with a red half price sticker on the front.

Yesterday, I found myself in a long line of people to have my book signed.  It’s pretty safe to say that I was the only weirdo in line without a fresh-off-the-press copy of Enchantment.  Soon, it was my turn.  I proceeded to the table and quickly explained my story.  “I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, so I can’t buy your new book, even though I really want to.  I bought a used copy of one of your older books, so could you sign this one?”  First, he laughed a bit and said he wouldn’t last a week without shopping.  Then he asked where I got the book.  I told him I bought it at a used book store and showed him the bright red price tag on the front.  He then proceeded to tell me that The Art of the Start never came out in paperback.  Mine is a paperback.  Either it’s a illegitimate copy or an unmarked advanced reading copy, intended for bookstores.  Either way, he said that was the best reason he’s ever heard from anyone as to why they’re not buying his book.

He signed my book and he even allowed me to have a photo taken with him.  I have to say, if there were more people in the world like Guy, the world would be a noticeably better place.  I plan to buy his new book and I found 3 used copies on amazon.com.  If anyone should teach us about enchantment, it should be someone that understands it and lives that way.  Guy seems to get it.

If you’re interested in his new book, here’s the amazon link.  There’s 2 used ones left, the 3rd one is mine, so leave it there.  😉

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions

I had the opportunity to just buy a new copy of his book, and I wanted to, but I didn’t.  I might be waiting a little longer to read his amazing book (prejudged from his awesome session at SXSW), but it goes to show that with a little pre-planning, you can have what you want while saving money and being good to the environment.  Thanks Guy!

the challenge: day 37 & 39 [God’s Own Junkyard]

Just to make things fun and chaotic, I’ll make this post from 2 non-sequential days.

I visited this awesome little used bookstore.  I would have photos to show, had I remembered to put the memory card in my camera.  Luckily I didn’t take too many photos before I discovered my critical error.  The bookstore caught my eye, as I couldn’t miss an old house and a porch filled with books.  We stopped since they sell used books and that’s allowed.  All of the books on the porch were $0.25 each, and if you’re one of those ‘after hours’ shoppers, you can just take your books and leave your money in the box.  I found 3 books outside, but the great treasure was waiting for me inside the store.

After browsing for a while, I found a section in the corner called ‘interesting stuff’.  There were 2 shelves of interesting stuff, so I knew I would have to stop and read all of the titles.  And there it was.  A copy of Peter Blake’s God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape.  Now honestly, I’ve never heard of this book before, but I loved the title.  The book is missing the dust jacket, but is in good condition otherwise.  The price?  $1.00.  Yep, that fits in my budget AND it’s used.  I found some copies of this book on amazon.com, 8 copies starting at $9.98 and one collector copy for $61.00.

This book was published in 1964, one of 17 books published by Peter Blake who was not only an author, but an architect as well.  He passed away in 2006 at the age of 86.  I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m starting it as soon as I finish this blog post.  It seems to me that he was born before his time, giving us an early warning of our American culture of carelessness and waste.

I bought this book with the intention of making an altered book, using modern day photos related to his old photos, showing the progression of progress.  I watched The Book of Eli the other night and I really can’t help but wonder how close we are to that world being a reality.  The one thing that stuck in my head was Eli saying, “…people carelessly wasted things that we kill for today.”  I have mixed feelings about making this book into an art project.  Maybe I need to make God’s Own Junkyard 2: The Continued Deterioration of America’s Landscape.

Off to read…

**ADDITION**

I was near the bookstore again, with my camera and a memory card this time… Here’s a photo of the bookstore.

[book review] radical by david platt

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Amazon: Buy the book
  • Kindle version: Get it now
  • ISBN-10: 1601422210

Amazon.com review from June 14, 2010

Although I really like much of the content in this book, and I am glad I read it, I struggled some with the author’s communication style of ‘you need to do everything I’m saying’. He has many great points about taking back your faith from the american dream. I live in a city where the income average is twice that of the national average. I have a 1780 square foot home, which here is considered extremely small, yet I consider it very big. I drive my 14 year old car next to many new and much fancier cars. Over the past couple of years, and a lot lately, I really have to wonder why God has me in a place where people are living the american dream… times 2. I clearly don’t fit in here, or do I?

David gives many opinions, and many of them really good, but I feel like I still don’t know what he’s about. He gave some personal examples, but not enough for me see that he is completely sold out to his opinions and vision. Before this book, I read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical “Irresistible Revolution”, and it was clear by his stories and the way he communicated it, that he is sold out to his vision and beliefs. I do recommend reading this book, but I also recommend that you pray about God’s will for your life within the context of his thoughts.  Continue reading

[book review] trolls & truth by jimmy dorrell

This is an amazon.com book review I did on June 5th, 2010.

I’m not sure where I first heard about church under the bridge, but I needed to go check it out for myself. I drove down there with a friend to go to church a few months ago. I can honestly say I never thought I would drive 4 hours to go to church. If you haven’t been, it’s amazing and worth an even longer drive than that one.

When I met Jimmy, I had no idea he was the one that started church under the bridge. He was so welcoming and not one of those “untouchable people” that you can’t find or talk to.

I immediately bought his book as soon as I got back from my visit. He talks a lot in here about bringing church to the people. I’ve seen so many models of this lately, and it works! Talk about some radical Kingdom work.

Jimmy communicates some much needed change in the church world as a whole, but does it in a thought provoking way. I don’t see how anyone could read this and not make some positive changes for God’s Kingdom. And if you go to his church, you’re going to just fall in love with Dedrick.

[book review] irresistible revolution by shane claiborne

I did a review of this book on amazon.com on June 5th, 2010.

This book makes me want to not only make some small changes, but change my whole life. There aren’t many book I would read a second time, but this is one of them. While reading this book, I decided one morning to take a one year challenge. It’s a small step, but you have to start somewhere.

I bought the domain name trashsociety.com a while back, with many different intentions of what I could do with it. We have so much waste in our American culture. We are raised to do anything and everything that will make our lives easier and more comfortable. Well I am finally uncomfortable with comfort and irritated with ease. There is so much suffering in the world and we can all make a difference by intentionally choosing to make some simple changes in the way we live.  Continue reading

‘excessable christmas’ book orders

Wow! I’ve had lots of questions about how to order my self-published book. If you would like to order one, please go to http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1124341, or shoot me an email that you want one, as I have ordered some extras.  Here’s the book info:

ISBN: yeah, not so much.  Self published and I’m not famous… yet.

Price: blurb.com $26.95 + shipping.  From me, $26.00 and I’ll pay for the shipping. **All book proceeds go to Casa Hogar Elim**

Softcover: 120 full color pages (like I would ever do black and white)

Language: English, I think.

Book Dimensions: Square, I like squares, 7″ x 7″

Thanks to all of my friends for your encouragement on this crazy little blog project.  It has inspired me to follow my four year old dream of writing a book, to hopefully get published by someone other than me.  The research begins NOW and you can check out the details at rethinkgood.com or become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/rethinkgood.