The Gospel does not call us to receive Christ as an addition to our life, but as our life. —Paul Washer
The Gospel does not call us to receive Christ as an addition to our life, but as our life. —Paul Washer
Ranked in order of awesomeness.
Note: This post is lengthy. I also think it is worth reading. I’m the author, so take that with a grain of salt.
So this blog never really got back up off the ground. After a cursory glance, you might assume that Doug has just fallen off the face of the earth. Or that he has forgotten how to write. Or that he has become antisocial. Or… well, you can fill in the blank.
Truth be told, I’m writing as much as I ever have. No, that’s a lie. I used to be on a frantic pace back in the day. I haven’t, and I couldn’t match that pace again. And therein lies my problem. If I can’t bring CoffeeSwirls back to it’s former glory, what’s the point?
I am still writing, socializing, thinking… But I am doing it outside of this blog. When I first started blogging, there was no Facebook or MySpace, and Google was just one of several search engines. There was no iPhone and apps were what you gave to employers if you were looking for a job. My cell phone did have the game “Snake” however, and I was hooked on it.
If you wanted to be social online, you either got your own website or you got on the news feeds, or whatever those archaic things were called. And once you had a website, you needed some way to add content. Creating HTML files on a daily basis sucked, so like many others, I found blogging software and tried it out. I added an e-mail newsletter and I figured I had my bases pretty much covered.
I would post on my blog and comment on other people’s blogs. We had blogrolls and bloglines. We linked to each other. It was social media. It worked for us. When MySpace came out, I didn’t even bother because the blogosphere was good enough for me.
Facebook came out and people started moving to that. I would get an almost daily request from this or that person to join and I eventually did. The games on Facebook are better than “Snake” on my old Nokia phone, by the way. Then came Twitter, and I eventually gave that a try as well. I’m still not much of a fan, to be honest. But Twitter does have it’s uses.
If you look for me now on Facebook, you’ll see mostly stupid pictures and some content that is carried over from Google+. If you find me on Twitter, you’ll see some leftover spam from when I was last hacked. I’m not that motivated to reactivate the Twitter stream. It doesn’t add anything to my life. If you find me on Google+ though, there is quite a bit of content. Some of it silly. Some of it thought out. All of it me. And the more I get to know about my friends inside Google+, the more categories of Doug are opened to them. Because Google+ is built around shared interests with a wider variety of people rather than pre-existing relationships.
Google+ is built around shared interests rather than pre-existing relationships.
Google+ is only a ghost town to the people who refuse to engage with it. Kinda like how Facebook was a ghost town when you first joined and hadn’t accepted any friend requests yet. Any social medium is what you make of it. So people who say that Google+ is a waste of time and energy aren’t saying a thing about G+ but are saying a lot about their knowledge of the intent behind how G+ is built.
While I’m happy with the people in my Facebook existing friend list, I am also expanding my list of friends based around people with interests similar to my own, not just historical markers similar to my own.
Recently, Lifehacker.com took a poll from their readers where they asked What’s Your Social Network of Choice? At the time I’m writing this, Google+ has over 60% of the vote and Facebook has under 15%. And most of these votes were cast while Lifehacker was stacking the deck in favor of Facebook and Twitter, which has since been changed. But if you read through the comments you’ll see something very interesting.
Nobody defends Facebook by saying that they enjoy using Facebook. Not a one. They say that their family and their old high school friends are on Facebook so they have no choice but to be on there as well. People remain on Facebook out of some misguided sense of social necessity even though most of them do not enjoy Facebook.
Sure, Facebook has games to play. I used to play them too. I also used to play “Snake” on my phone. Have I mentioned that before?
So this blog is stage 1. Facebook was a sort of stage 2. Google+ is stage 3. And I’m not naive enough to think there won’t ever be a stage 4. But for now, I am ENJOYING the social content on Google+. What does this all mean?
So all this to say that not a whole lot will change. But me getting rid of my webhost and just having the URL redirect to Google+ is a big step for me. It’s a big step for my branding. I’ve had the same host for a decade. Wow, a decade. But my social network has changed from the blogosphere to Facebook and Google+. And out of the remaining networks, I prefer Google+. And I think you will also.
I went for a walk today. On my way back, I passed a home that had a small fenced in area for their dog. It had to be just for the dog, because it was too small for any other use. So it was a small dog pooping area.
As I walked by, the dog inside the fence let me know that that was his area and that the sidewalk I was on was taking me way to close to his pooping area and if I were to try to enter his territory, there would be serious repercussions.
I crouched down at the fence and put my hand toward him so he could smell me. He sniffed and howled at me again. So I told him he was doing a fine job defending his poop (dog’s can understand people, they just can’t talk) and walked along my merry way back home.
Then I thought, how am I savagely defending small, confined, restrictive, poop-filled areas in my life? So I ask you that question also. What areas in your life do you defend when you really ought to chuckle and just jump the fence into the freedom of the sidewalk?
Let me begin by saying I am an Iowan. I like Iowa. I understand Iowa. The Iowan traditions are familiar and comforting to me. We ask kids to tell a joke before they get candy when trick or treating. We don’t allow the good fireworks, but the cops (mostly) know to look the other way the weekend of July 4.
And we have the state fair by which all other fairs can be judged. There, I said it.
I got into a facebook discussion with one of my sister’s friends named Gianna after the Iowa State Fair had concluded. Apparently, she took offense to something I said about how the Iowa State Fair is far superior to all other fairs as if that just isn’t factual. I understood her local blinders about how great the Minnesota State Fair is in her eyes and got to wonder if maybe I have similar blinders about the Iowa State Fair. So I visited my sister over the Labor Day weekend and visited the Minnesota State Fair for one day.
One day is not enough time to give any fair a proper evaluation. But one day is really what I had available to me. My sister and her husband have four kids, ages nine months to eight years. They were real troopers for the one full day we spent, but asking them to do a second day would be pushing it.
The Minnesota grounds are pretty flat. The Iowa State Fair features a hill that can be a bit challenging for some, but the hill adds character to the fair. And there are rewards for climbing the hill, whether you want to sample some new dairy products, catch a great interactive kids show, stomp some grapes into wine or just find a great deal on lemonade. A flat fair is outside of my definition of what the fair should be, so I’ll accept this as a preference based on familiarity.
Both fairs have a ride called “Ye Old Mill.” Its hook my confidence a bit when I saw that the ride is essentially identical from one fair to the other. And from what research I have done, it appears that Minnesota had their ride first. So I must give a point to our neighbors to the north.
The Minnesota State Fair also has a permanent structure haunted house. “Seems a bit early in the year for that,” said the sensible Iowan.
There are food stands throughout the Minnesota fairgrounds, but the center of the food is essentially a giant food court. Lots of fish items are served. We shared an order of “Smelt,” which tastes better than it sounds. In the food stands, I got a sense that this fair is all about Minnesota while the food stands in Iowa are all about Iowa. Sure, you can get a corn dog at both fairs, but the differing items are where the state shines through. And because of this, it is difficult to declare a winner.
I expected much better stages in the Minnesota fair. In Iowa, you can walk around and visit several stages capable of holding hundreds of people to see a free music show or talent contest. I didn’t see that in Minnesota.
The Iowa State Fair is much better organized. We have buildings and areas on the grounds for certain types of attractions. The Minnesota State Fair appeared to have a more haphazard method of “first come first served” when deciding where to place things. It was like visiting a town that didn’t have any zoning. If you want to see the items you can only buy at the fair, I can name about four buildings where you might find it. If you want information about a local college, the Education Building is a great place to start, but your search may take you elsewhere. This could be another familiarity issue, but I don’t think so.
So Gianna and I have contemplated a challenge next year. She will visit the Iowa State Fair and I will visit the Minnesota State Fair. I’m thinking we can make categories to judge one against the other. Food, People Watching, General Feel, Free Attractions, Butter Sculptures and so on. Maybe I will have recovered enough to compare the Ye Old Mills, but I don’t think a Haunted House category is suitable in August/September.
I was interviewed at church this last Sunday, and as I promised through Google+ and Facebook, here is the audio. I come in at the 32 minute mark, so don’t feel compelled to listen past about 31:45. The sermon title is “Living God’s Grace.”
I’m starting to think that everyone needs to define for themselves what “Happily Ever After” looks like. Write it out someplace and refer to it frequently. Update it as you find new things and new contexts. Share it with those you love the most and let their own “Happily Ever After” story and your story influence each other. If you are married, you should have already done something along this line of thought already.
If you are unmarried, perhaps hurting, this is still important, but revealing your deepest longings to another person may need to come incrementally. And sometimes it might just come gushing out, leaving you overly vulnerable. But if you are going to reconnect with others, eventually you will need to share yourself with them. Yes, this requires you to open yourself to the risk of pain. But here’s the deal. You will never know if you can truly trust someone unless you open yourself up to them. To put it another way, you must trust someone to discover if you can trust them.
So how do you come up with your own “Happily Ever After” anyway? Let me take a stab at it.
Start with your non-negotiables. What are the aspects of life that make it worth living to you? These are the things that must be present at all stages of your story. These are also the things that any partner in your story must share with you if they will be joining you in your “Happily Ever After.” If you walk through life with someone who doesn’t share your non-negotiables, or worse if they work against your non-negotiables, you cannot be happy. And if you discover this after you have pledged your life to them, life will be difficult at best.
The non-negotiables of your “Happily Ever After” shouldn’t require another person, by the way. An abiding and growing love for Jesus is my number one description of “Happily Ever After” for myself. I do desire a partner in my walk through life. And this same love for Jesus must be present in anyone who I walk with. I have other non-negotiables, but I don’t need to share them all for you to get the idea.
The obvious follow up to non-negotiables are the things that you can negotiate. Life doesn’t always follow the plans that you make. In fact, it seldom does. Because of this, I currently have concepts in this category, not absolutes. And vague concepts don’t really belong in my definition of “Happily Ever After.”
I have also considered adding information of how I wish to obtain to my “Happily Ever After” but if I have solid instructions, they belong in the non-negotiable category and if they are vague concepts, I don’t want to clutter my “Happily Ever After.”
So that’s my take on how to define your “Happily Ever After.” And what is mine? I’ve only shared that with a few people, and I think one of them doesn’t even realize that I was sharing this with them. In fact, I’m pretty sure of it. I gave a heavily edited version, anyway, so if I share it again, I will need to share my current version.
I’m reading the Pilgrim’s Progress right now. And the allegory of that story goes well with my “Happily Ever After” theme. I could say that I have abandoned the City of Destruction and am on my way to the Celestial City. That journey provides the setting for my happily ever after, even as it includes the trials and heartaches I have been encountering and will continue to find. I want someone to run to that city with me through the difficulties and the joys. Hand in hand. As partners, as teammates. If nobody joins me, I will keep running.
But I’ve given as much of my “Happily Ever After” as I am willing to share in a blog post. There is more to it. And it is beautiful. And I am longing to share it in full with somebody. In God’s time. In God’s way.
I’m a little nervous writing this now. The last time I told someone that I had a good night’s sleep was the last time I had a good night’s sleep. Two nights ago, I got almost six hours. And that was great! Last night, I think I got closer to seven. But I’m not sure.
My legs aren’t as wobbly today. I don’t feel any nausea from exhaustion. I caught myself smiling this morning. God is good. Please don’t stop praying for me.