May 4th, 2010

Roll Over Beethoven

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”Roll Over Beethoven” was on the With the Beatles album and was 100% written by Chuck Berry.  The song was part of the band’s repertoire for concerts from the late 50s into 1964, including their 1964 North American tour.  All four of them provided the handclaps for the song.

People like to use “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” as an excuse to not try new things.  I don’t know if it’s actually true about actual dogs, but the thinking is, a person gets too set in their ways, too used to how they do things, and there’s no sense in trying to get them to do different things.  There’s a certain comfort in the phrase, and a chance for both the sayer and the hearer to nod their heads knowingly and leave it at that.  “Well,” they both agree, “that’s the end of that.  No getting around that one!”


Thing is, I’ve held to that point of view for a long time.  I may not have ever said it (though I’d be surprised if that were true), but I’ve certainly lived by it.  “Don’t try to change me.”  “I’m set in my ways.” “I like what I like.”  Those are certainly things I’ve said, and more than once each.

There’s another phrase that you hear: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get the same result.”  This phrase has been sticking with me lately.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m just about to turn 38 or because I’m about to get married or something else entirely or both of those together, but there’s been a lot of self-evaluation going on.  Megan and I have been going through premarital counseling, so there’s been a lot of “How do each of you act in this particular situation?” and “What do each of you think about ________?”, so I’m sure that’s part of it.

I really want to be a good husband.  Sure, that’s a nice sentiment, I know.  But… I really do.  I want to find out what makes a good husband and do that, be that.  I also want to be a good father, should that be a thing that happens.  I want to be a good friend, a good worker, a good owner of cats, a good… whatever else.  For me, that’s all tied up in my faith – I want to be a good Christian.  Whether you like that or not, the way I understand being a good Christian amounts to me being a good citizen, too.

So I’ve been thinking these things a lot, mulling them over, pondering them.  The trap I easily fall into, though, is leaving it there.  I can “think things through” longer than most of you kids have been alive, it seems like.  Change, thought, real change is about doing.  A phrase I hit upon earlier this year has stuck with me and become a goal of mine: “Live deliberately.”  I want to specifically pick things to change and then do it, change them.

So here’s a list of things I want to be doing every day, where “every day” is defined as “somewhere between 5-7 times a week.”  While they are not all inherently spiritual, there is a spiritual aspect to doing things that I believe I should be doing.  The list so far:

  • Flossing – a simple thing, but very helpful, and more helpful the older I get here
  • Using the treadmill (for more than a place to hang things) – I have no interest in running outside, but if I could set up a laptop to be usable while I was on the treadmill?  That will make a world of difference.
  • Push-ups – There’s a program for getting yourself to the point where you can do 100 push-ups, and it really seems like something I could do and should do
  • Go to bed earlier – more specifically, before 11p.  This directly ties in with
  • Get up earlier – ideally, 5a.  The times in my life where I’ve done this have been fantastic, and I’d like to get back to it.
  • Read my Bible – the more I read it, the better I can remember what it is I need to be doing
  • Be on time – for work, for church, for everything I can be

It’s a start.  I’d like to revisit this in a year and be able to say, “Not only did I start that, I’m still doing all those things.”

I’ve never seen the movies referenced in the title of this entry, but I don’t have to to know that the titular character is a giant dog who brings chaos wherever he is.  I’d rather be an agent of serenity than an agent of chaos, a help to those around me rather than a hindrance.  And even though I’m a cat person, I’d like to think that this old dog can learn some new tricks.

April 30th, 2009

Four Rules

I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but yesterday I was in a group of guys that were discussing the “Four Rules of Communication.” It’s a well-known topic at our church, and it happened to come up in our normal study schedule.

Here are the Four Rules of Communication:

  1. Be honest
  2. Keep current
  3. Attack the problem not the person
  4. Act, don’t react

The idea behind these rules is that every human relationship will run into rough spots, disagreements, and plain old outright fights. While those things can’t be avoided, these rules can help the rough spots be smoother. The rules are designed to solve problems.

Be honest – Makes sense. You can’t solve problems if the problems aren’t being presented as they are. Solving fake problems doesn’t help anyone.

Keep current – This one has two elements to it. First, the idea is to deal with things as they come up. If you dwell on something and let it fester for months, the problem multiplies and gets harder to fix. The second part is letting go of the past. If a problem has been brought up and dealt with and forgiveness has been granted, don’t bring it up again in future discussions. “I can’t trust you in this situation because of what you did in that situation, even though I forgave you for it” doesn’t work.

Attack the problem not the person – Again, just makes sense. Calling into question the other person’s abilities or calling them names will make them defensive and make the situation even more thorny than it already was. Our pastor likes to say, “Problems were meant for solving,” and if you’re attacking the other person, you’re not working on solving the problem.

Act, don’t react – This is the one I have the hardest time understanding, but I think it has more to do with dealing with the actual issues, not reacting to the symptoms or hurt feelings. I’m going to react to things differently when I’m tired or sick or excited or in a good mood, so reactions aren’t a good judge of “what needs to happen.” Acting on what I know is the better way.

I wish I could remember everything that we discussed. The guys had some good insight that I know I’m forgetting here. It’s always a challenge to me when the subject comes up because I know I’m not the best communicator. I avoid problems and hope they go away, and that isn’t right. I need to learn how to meet problems head-on and deal with them.

The Bible is full of all kinds of practical advice alongside its spiritual guidelines. I think the four rules stand on their own pretty well, but in case you’re interested, they are based on Ephesians 4:25-32:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS
NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

March 31st, 2009


My friend Dave was a running back for the football team in high school.  I don’t know his stats, but I remember he was pretty good.  I also remember that one time when were watching a game film, a coach told Dave that he needed to “belly more” on the end run.  I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but it had something to do with how he needed to get out and around the end before heading downfield.  Whatever it meant, it earned Dave the nickname of “Bellymore” for a while.  It sounds kind of like a British butler’s name, really.

That lasted until a particular game that didn’t go so well for Dave.  In this game, he ended up losing three fumbles.  “Bellymore” promptly became “Fumblemore,” which doesn’t have near as nice a ring to it.  Because of that game, Dave was assigned the task of carrying a football around with him for a week.  All day long at school there was Dave, carrying a football.  It was supposed to make him more comfortable with the ball so he’d carry it more naturally.  The rest of the team got an assignment, too.  Any time we saw Dave, we were supposed to try to knock the ball out of his grasp.

I don’t know if any of that helped Dave at all, but I don’t remember him having to do that again.  Aside from the discussion we could have about extracurricular activities intruding on Dave’s academic life, it got me thinking about what we hold on to and how we learn to do it.

Grudges seem to be a thing people hold on to for a long time.  I’ve known people who have carried grudges for years, refusing to let go even if they haven’t seen the offending party in almost as many years.  Usually someone holding on to a grudge is also holding on to bitterness as well.

Other people hold on to a good memory, something that stood out for them from whatever else was going on around them.  We see this in movies all the time – someone is told to find their “happy place” and we get a flashback to when they got a puppy as a kid or had a vacation on a tropical island.  It’s as if that puppy was the pinnacle of their life, and nothing else will ever match up to it.

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Sybok offers to “take away” Captain Kirk’s pain. Captain Kirk gets downright belligerent and tells him, “No way! We need our pain, it makes us who we are, yada yada yada.”  (That’s a paraphrase.) He makes a good point, but there are still many who would love to give up the pain of having to watch Star Trek V, I’ll warrant.

Others hold on to heartbreak, in some cases because the lost love was their whole life, in other cases because the heartbreak is all they have left to show, and in still other cases because it’s easier to hide in the heartbreak then to try again.

How did any of these people learn to hold on to any of these things?  Pretty much the same way Dave learned to hold on to the football: they carry it with them daily.  Pretty soon it doesn’t matter who comes along and tries to knock it away from them, they’ve gotten very comfortable with it and won’t be fumbling  it away any time soon.

What do you hold on to particularly well?  Anyone who knows me can pick mine out of this list pretty easily.