Learning to shake more dust

Matthew 10:14 – "Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words–go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet."

Throughout the last few years I’ve learned some hard lessons about when it’s appropriate to "shake the dust" and move on.  I used to have a pretty good sense to when I was not being well-received, but I fear that the skill is diminishing and in many ways I don’t recognize just how obsolete I became.

One of the hardest things is to be in a situation where you think you’re fighting the good fight, advocating for what is right.  It grows frustrating when you feel you’ve gained momentum and are justified in your cause.  I’ve always prided myself on having the pulse of the people I represent.

Then comes the revelation – that you really have no idea just how detached you are, just how out of touch you’ve become.  This whole time you thought you were going to bat for the team, and instead you’ve taken a fastball right to the back – thrown under the bus.  In that moment everything is turned upside down.

When did I lose touch?  What was the exact moment when people stopped receiving me?  What has become of me?  Have I grown that out of touch that I’m completely obsolete?  Have I worn out my welcome that my objections have been reduced to mere white noise that must be filtered out?  The righteous part of me believes that I speaking for those who need the most representation.  I am gifted with an analytical mind and pride myself in calculating all of the possible scenarios of a decision, accurately representing all of the possible consequences.  Have I lost this gift, or is it the fact that people are too inconvenienced by what I have to say?  Am I even relevant?

Last week has brought powerful revelations into the light.  As I find myself asking the question "Where am I called?", the answer still remains vague and unknown.  One thing is affirmed and becoming clear: where I am not being called.  I know the time has come to "shake the dust" and move on.  I am spent, I am exhausted and I fear that my recent efforts have been spent in vain.

The Madden Curse Continues – Alexander is HURT!

The Madden Curse strikes again this year after the Seahawks announced that Shaun Alexander is out indefinitely with a broken foot.

I remember when we were playing Fantasy Football and my friend Matt had the 1st pick of the draft.  The buzz about Shaun Alexander was hot, but I suggested that Matt resist the temptation and take LaDainian Tomlinson from the Chargers.  Well aware of the curse, Matt was already planning to take LT.

The story on ESPN has a chart documenting the demise of the last six players to grace the cover of Madden NFL: RB Shaun Alexander, QB Donovan McNabb, LB Ray Lewis, QB Michael Vick, RB Marshall Faulk, and QB Daunte Culpepper.

If I was in the NFL and the Madden guys were approaching me with a truckload of money to appear on the cover of Madden ’08, I would take the money and just take the year off.  You’re already not going to play because you’re hurt, so why not avoid the pain?

read more | digg story

Cooking Salmon – in a DISHWASHER?!?

Typically in the beginning the week when our meals aren’t planned, Bethany and I shoot emails back and forth during the day to try to figure out what’s for dinner.  We started the conversation after I was reading an interesting article on Digg, so I responded "Are you interested in being experimental for dinner?"  How about some Dishwaster-cooked Salmon?

I stopped by on the grocery store and picked up two salmon fillets and some lime juice.  Bethany met me at home and we wrapped them in foil, placed the seasoning and loaded up the dishwasher.

Dishwaster Salmon-1

We fired it up on the normal setting and let it ride.  It took a little over an hour to get completely through the cycle, and we  were both wondering whether we were threw $10 worth of fillets in the trash.  The drying cycle just about completed, we opened up the washer and were ready for the moment of truth.

Dishwaster Salmon-2

Dishwaster Salmon-3

Believe it or not – it fully cooked!  The inside was definitely moist, but I think it was due to the fact that it was steamed.  It looked like the water stayed out of the foil.  In the end, the only benefit was that this was entertaining.  We usually cook salmon in the oven for 5-10 minutes, instead of putting in the dishwasher for over an hour.  Next time we’ll do the oven, but maybe next time we have a party we’ll do salmon in the dish-washer.

Mixed emotions from the discernment process

Note: The following is simply a reflection of my initial thoughts and feelings througout my own personal discernment process, and is not intended to serve as an account of the process or disclose any private comments that were made during this process.

The leadership discernment process is over, and the basic result is that I was not selected at the chairperson.  I definitely am holding a bag of mixed emotions within me at this point, feelings that are extremely important to process.  One side of me is very relieved and very joyous. I am happy with the result and the person whom was called forth to be chair.  I have a sense of relief because I no longer need to fret about the balance of my schedule, the stress of a larger sense of responsibility, and the grief of giving up some of the duties I most enjoy (i.e. maintaining the web site).  A large part of me is joyous.

Still, there is a sense of disappointment, and my initial confidence in my abilities & perceived value is definitely shaken from this experience.  Throughout the rest of the day I’ve been left to question whether I was the only one that felt called to put my name out there as chairperson.  Before the final selection process, I made some comments that may have been perceived as radical.  I was definitely honest in my view of the challenges facing this organization, and I think the suggestions I offered may have simply been too radical and challenging – the changes too drastic, to the people listening.  I am left to wonder whether I would have been truly better of keeping my mouth shut when it came time to offer suggestions.

I feel I definitely offer a unique perspective in this process.  Being a non-traditional student with over 6 years of involvement in Campus Ministry has definitely shaped me differently.  My struggles with Campus Ministry at J23 have given me some unique experiences from which I base my motivation and advocacy.

In the end I wonder if I am better for the experience for participating in this experience.  This is the second year I’ve participated and in a joking way I can say I’m 0-2 in this process.  I would like to think of it as God calling me to be doing something different, to devote my energies elsewhere (God knows I have enough else going on at this point).  I am ultimately glad I stepped forward and put my name out there, but there is defintely a degree of doubt and pain I’ve taken from this process.

Discerning for Leadership

One of the things we’re doing here in Dallas is discerning the next chairperson for NCSC.  Right now I am spending time contemplating what gifts/attributes are needed for the chairperson, and whether I myself and called to serve in this role – of if I feel someone else exhibits those qualities.

These are just some random notes that I am writing down, for the sole benefit of getting something "on paper".  Some of this may just be a braindump, and in the end I’m not sure just how understandable this will be.

I find myself going back and forth as to whether I really feel called to this position.  I look at where NCSC is at, I look at many opportunities and struggles and I see how I could plug in effortlessly into this position and serve the NCSC well.  I think I have a lot of really good ideas, some really good vision as to how the NCSC is run, and do get excited about the opportunity to serve Catholic students on a national level.

At the same time, my overbearing schedule rings in my head like a loud church bell.  I step back and look at the fact that I’m working 40+ hours per week, going to school, playing in a band and now starting a new business – do I really have time available for this?  Is it fair for me to take on something this big – when I think about my relationship with Bethany?  Am I setting myself up for failure by taking on too much.

I know I do a lot of NCSC work right now, and that it simply might just be interchanged with more NCSC work, but is this what I’m really called to do?  Can I be effective at this?  Right now I know there are things that I could improve upon in my current position in NCSC, is it right for me to move on to something else?  Would I be happy doing this kind of work?  There’s a part of me that really wonders if it would be best for me to be off in my own corner, simply do web site and tech development.

Last year I discerned for the National Chair position, and things didn’t go quite as well as I would have hoped.  I am extremely supportive of the result of last year’s discernment, but where I struggled was the part where people reflected on my gifts and what I brought to the group.  I was shocked that the gifts that people didn’t name the gifts I wanted them to name.  I thought as myself as a visionary, organized and detailed person, and it felt like people couldn’t see past my technological abilities.  Part of me doesn’t really want to put myself out there because the same thing will likely happen again.  It’s not that I don’t mind people thinking I’m a tech geek, but it frustrates me when it seems like people don’t see past that.

I would appreciate any advice and prayers over the next few days.