When You Can’t Have It Both Ways

realAs a committed member of the Millennial Generation, I love to keep my options open.

Finality, conclusiveness, and decisiveness when better opportunities could arise make it difficult to commit.

As my wife and I prepare for the arrival of tiny human numero uno, we’ve done some rearranging in our city apartment. We converted our former guest room/office into a guest room/nursery, which meant my massive desk got the boot in favor of a changing table.

The mStand for my Macbook is the only thing redeeming the entire situation, because it allows me to still use my computer while I stand at my desk, but writing with a prehistoric utensil (like a pen) while standing is absolutely out of the questions unless I want to write at a 90° angle.

The mStand for my Macbook is the only thing redeeming the entire situation, because it allows me to still use my computer while I stand at my desk, but writing with a prehistoric utensil (like a pen) while standing is absolutely out of the questions unless I want to write at a 90° angle.

We chose the cheap but solid NORBERG fold-down table to function as my new desk stationary desk from our Swedish friends at IKEA. It fits nicely in our laundry room / office, which is, as those in real estate say of small places, quite cozy. I also thought I’d hop onto the standing desk bandwagon. However, as a true millennial I knew I wanted to have a standing desk that I could also occasionally sit at.

The thing about stationary desks is that they are either the proper height for standing or for sitting, but, as I recently discovered, can most certainly not be both. If you don’t choose one or the other and try to keep your desk options open, you end up with a surface that performs poorly in both ways.

Now that I’ve drilled half a dozen holes into the wall, I have a desk that’s a little too high for writing and a little too low for standing. A standing desk or sitting desk would have been just fine, but a sitting desk at my upper chest and a standing desk at my lower hip are less than fulfilling.

Often, you can’t have some things both ways. Many (most?) things in life are mutually exclusive, even two good things. You can’t pursue two goals that demand the majority of your time.

So, choose. Today, make a choice to let a dream die in favor of a better one. Don’t try to jam together two puzzle pieces that aren’t quite right.

It’s nice to have options, but it’s better to choose one option, definitively, when the gap is too wide to split the difference.

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The High Cost of Owning Nice Things

In light of a certain company creating some new products and preparing to unleash them to the hungry, coveting masses, it seems an especially good time to consider the high cost of owning nice things.

Let’s start off with this assumption: Nice things are nice.1 I suppose that could go without saying, but one major reason we buy things that are better quality than the run-of-the-mill products is because we don’t want to be tempted to swear and chuck that piece of junk out the window when it doesn’t work, breaks, or dies in the middle of an important project.

nice-things

Along with a higher price tag, which is pretty standard for nicer things, there are other costs worth considering.

Initial Price

“You get what you pay for,” is the catch phrase of those pursuing the American Dream. It’s the de facto slogan of rationalization, and it’s such a good justifier I hardly ever disagree with it.

There’s no doubt it contains truth. I hardly expect a cheap plastic spoon I bought for a nickel to last as long as a metal spoon that might last the rest of my life, if I don’t lose it in a move somewhere along the way.

But is a gold-plated spoon better? Is it necessary? Will paying $300 for a spoon actually serve me more effectively than a normal piece of silverware?

That’s where we have to stop and ask questions. I think it’s wise to buy things that don’t inherently invite death and destruction (a la Smart Cars getting hit by Hummers or semis on the highway) but “YGWYPF” only extends so far.  … 

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  1. It’s those insights that keep you reading here, no?

Martin Luther’s Meditation Recipe

My mornings are often the strongest indicator of how successfully1 my day will turn out. If I start by wasting time, it’s hard for me to recover, and I might as well go back to bed before lunch and hope to start fresh tomorrow.

I’m currently making my way through Timothy Keller’s excellent book Prayer. One idea that I’ve already put into practice comes from our Reforming friend Martin Luther.

Note: I'm pretty sure this isn't Marty in a coffee shop, but I bet this guy is meditating on the Word.

Note: I’m pretty sure this isn’t Marty in a coffee shop, but I bet this guy is meditating on the Word.

I’m a pretty weak meditator. That’s my own fault, as it is difficult to meditate if you don’t create gaps of silence in your life. It feels like I’m reading, thinking about tasks, listening, or speaking nearly constantly, but rarely deeply contemplating or wrestling with big ideas.

I have a morning manifesto, ideas for a new morning routine, and ways I’ve been trying to meditate. But, I don’t do what I want to do. I’m a good doctor and a horrible patient. I can prescribe the lights out but fail to pop the necessary pills or take the appropriate measures to become well.

So, with the help of the Poster Boy of the Reformation, I’ve started doing (a tiny bit) more work to prepare the day before, so that when I wander out to our living room in the morning, well-rested but still groggy, I’m ready to dive into time with the Lord.

It’s better to start my morning in a half-stupor of prayer and meditation than to wake up over the course of an hour having wasted time on things that won’t matter 10 minutes from now. Reading tweets doesn’t wake me up. It puts me on a high-speed slide toward dawdling and distraction.

Luther’s Recipe for starting your day with prayer:  … 

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  1. Whatever that means. For me, mostly that I didn’t waste (too much) time and I did the major things I needed to do for that day.

Using Siri Better to Write Posts and Messages

Right now I’m writing on my iPad. But I’m not really writing. I’m dictating all of my speech to Siri, our favorite spastic iOS assistant. Everyone has had their bouts with her, going round and round between “Sorry I didn’t catch that,” blatant misunderstandings, and occasionally amazing precision.

Huge improvements have been made over the years, and if you’re a long-time iOS user who was tired of taking Siri’s flack in the past and haven’t revisited her, I’d say give it another go. Now, she’s even correcting words as she sees the context changing, going back earlier sentences to make sure the words are correct, to the best of her ability.

holding-iphone

I just told her, “new paragraph” and she did the equivalent of tapping return twice. 1

You see, when I gave that new paragraph command she didn’t type the words “new paragraph”, but instead she inserted a new paragraph.

The dictation has gotten pretty impressive over the years and now that you can see that the words are appearing on the screen rather than dictating a massive chunk of text and watching a spinning dotted circle for 20 seconds only to have nothing get typed because of a so-called network error.

I wanted to share some of the best shortcuts Siri understands. Sure, it’s weird holding your iPad or iPhone a few inches in front of your face and speaking to a screen, but for longer messages it sure beats the socks off typing everything 2[/footnote] because I can speak a whole lot faster than I can type. … 

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  1. So, yes, I had to come back and edit this line.

  2. like an animal!

3 Steps to Not Becoming a Pharisee

One interesting aspect of the Christian life is how some components are absolutely critical and worth disagreement and breaking fellowship. Things like

  1. Salvation by faith in Christ
  2. The divinity of Jesus
  3. Acknowledgement and confession of sin
  4. Confessing Jesus as Lord

are really critical if you want to call yourself a Christian, but that’s by no means an exhaustive list. If you throw those components out, it’s kind of like saying you want to bake chocolate chip cookies but not use chocolate, eggs, flour, butter, sugar or an oven. You can call those cookies, but I think us orthodox-chocolate-chip-cookie eaters are going to think you’re pretty off-base.

3-steps

Other things are a lot less critical, but are (sometimes) worth discussing. Can you be a faithful Christian and…

  1. Watch Breaking Bad?
  2. Wear V-neck t-shirts?
  3. Use Android products?
  4. Read only eBooks?
  5. Use credit cards instead of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system?

I’ve obviously chosen rather fluffy topics instead of something like drinking alcohol, wearing head coverings, or whatever the flame-war-du-jour is on often-non-essential Christian arguments, which I undoubtedly still engage in when it isn’t always wise. Feel free to substitute these questions with anything that is generally unmentioned in the Bible or something that isn’t completely clear in scripture but faithful Christians are found on both sides of the topic.

In a theology class I recently took on Romans, the professor suggested three applications from Romans 14:1–23 in what I like to call, “How Not To Be A Pharisee.”  … 

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