Posts in Uncategorized
Advent, Waiting and the Internet
There are enough articles to suggest that the internet really does affect the way we think and the manner in which we act. These can be positive or negative, to be fair.  I suggest the following as helpful points and counterpoints on what is an ongoing debate:

As Advent is upon us, it's worth taking an inventory of how we use the internet to engage with others and with our faith.  This is a season of waiting, anticipating the next time Jesus comes to earth.  I've been waiting for my entire life and find Advent as an annual retooling in the art of waiting.

The internet does impact us. We become impatient, fast-thinking and demanding.  We also can learn things more quickly and cover more intellectual ground than ever before in history.

Here are three things you can do this Advent as you re-learn the ancient practice of "holy anticipation":

  • Sit with a post or comment. If you are a blogger, let your post stew for a few days before you go live with it.  If you are someone who likes to read others' blogs and then make a comment, take a pause- for an hour or for a day.  Then post what you're thinking about the article.  This process of moving forward/pulling back is a classic Advent move.  (for a long post, I like to use Evernote as the stew-pot; then I copy and paste into Wordpress)

  • Take slow internet speeds as a gift. If your wireless goes haywire, count this as a blessing- you get to wait a few seconds or if you're really lucky, a few minutes.  This may be God's subtle suggestion that you become a more patient person.  (ok, or switch your internet provider)

  • Interpret gradual improvement as Gospel. If life is moving slower than you'd like, take this too as a gift from God.  Your blog only has a thousand followers- ok.  Your Twitter feed only has 532 followers- ok.  Your prayer life is only partly consistent- ok.  All of this is part of the journey.  Get comfortable with gradual improvement rather than skyrocketing success.  I find that my spiritual director reminds me each month of this truth- holiness is a process rather than a point in time.

Advent is special.  It makes no sense if you see it through the lens of conventional wisdom.  It makes perfect sense if you see waiting as God's gift.
UncategorizedMike StPierre
How to Extend Thanksgiving Beyond One Day
I saw them the other day.  Christmas decorations in all of their "glory" but showing up well before Thanksgiving.  My first reaction was to shake my head.  I thought to myself, "Doesn't anyone enjoy Thanksgiving any more?"  It seemed as if consumerism pushed Thanksgiving over in favor of the more lucrative Christmas season.

I'm now reading that "Black Friday" shopping may extend to Thanksgiving day itself.  I guess the must have gadget just can't wait to be purchased as it had in past years.  What's going on here?

Growing up in New England, Thanksgiving always held a special place in my family.  The last high school football game of the year was played on Thanksgiving.  My brothers would come home from college on Thanksgiving.  An odd relative might come by for the day.  The traditions, the food and good company always made for a memorable day.  It also seemed to be the break that was just long enough to get you to pause from the hectic pace of life.

As my wife and I are now raising a family of our own, we are trying to "extend" Thanksgiving so that it last more than just one day.  It feels like the last "pure" holiday. No men in red costumes at the mall. No large, scary man dressed up in a bunny suit.  It's just an American day to be and to honor the principle of gratitude.  We want our kids to be more grateful and realize all that they have in life.

So how can you extend Thanksgiving beyond the one obligatory day each year?

Start by looking within. Take a few minutes during your prayer time to thank God for the slightest of things.  Your home, your family, a nice neighborhood, a safe commute, an organized workspace, gadgets, your faith, and so on.  If you can have this conversation out loud, all the better.  Don't be embarrassed- there's real power to vocalized prayer. If you can write it down, don't fight it.  If you can tell someone that you're thankful for them, you're really rolling.  After a while, gratitude expands within you.

Before you know it, Thanksgiving will have increased from within and extended out towards those around you.
The One Thing Leaders Crave but Can't Create
In the wake of Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson, a lot of us are talking about the qualities that Jobs employed to drive his company and his own legacy forward.  Tenacious, resolved, meticulous... there is hardly a shortage of adjectives to describe the man who shaped technology like no other in our generation.

There's just one thing, though that even Jobs could not create.  Surely he generated his own moments in time to launch products and solve problems that seemed impossible but even he would admit- you can't create the perfect moment.

There is no perfect moment.  It doesn't exist.

This is precisely why Jobs was so successful- he realized that there was no perfect moment to wait for.  It never arrives if all that you're doing is waiting.  This puts your own drive at the whim of others and that's a tough way to operate.  Instead, you have to create the context for doing something great.  You have to ship products.  You have to make ideas happen.  You have to turn a concept into a best seller.

Seth Godin wrote on the 99% blog the following,

"Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.
Skip meetings. Often. Skip them with impunity. Ship."

This is what Jobs did and it's one of the things that separates Apple from HP and mediocre leaders from great ones.  This is why Google is trying a ton of new products (think Orkut, Google Plus, Google Wallet and so on).  Some of them stick and some don't but  they keep shipping new products.

Parents know this as well- there is no perfect moment for having children.  They will always be expensive and moms will always be nervous about childbirth.

While I'm not exactly sure what I rock at at work, I do know that I come up with a lot of ideas.  If today's don't come to fruition, no worries because I'm bringing more with me tomorrow.  And the next day and the day after that.  Build up a ton of ideas and some are bound to stick. That's what Godin is talking about and what Jobs tapped into so smoothly- ship stuff.  Do it over and over again and get really good at it.

What are you waiting for within your project list?  Which project have you delayed in hopes for the perfect moment?

What can you do about it?
What I've Learned from 365 Days of Prayer
If there is one book that God has used to stir my spiritual life, it's Bill Hybels' Too Busy Not to Pray.  I read this just over a year ago and began an adventure of daily prayer that, this past week, marked 365 continuous days of devotions.

Hard to believe!

I've been a Christian for a long time but in only two periods of my life did prayer become real for me.  First, when I was in college, my prayer life was quite vibrant and alive.  Now as a result of reading Hybels' book, I'm thankful that I've hit another patch of spiritual consistency.

God gets the credit.

My previous post documented what I learned from only three weeks of prayer.  Little did I know that we would be here, one year later to report on this "spiritual experiment".  Here are my findings:

  • Simple is good. I've used the ACTS method of prayer and its strength lies in the simple approach to prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication.

  • The journal is key.  By writing down my prayers and complimenting them with verbal prayers, prayer has become more real for me.  I use a simple .99$ notebook from the grocery store.

  • Flexibility is important. As life has "seasons" when some things work and some things don't, so too does prayer have its moments.  I've had to change up my Scripture reading, times of day and length of journaling depending on how things were going.

  • There is no perfect moment. If you wait for the perfect moment to pray, it won't happen.  It will never be totally quiet and you will never hit an hour in the day when you feel perfectly ready for prayer.  The key as Nike coined years ago, just do it.

  • Prayer is about relationship and communication.  In the beginning, my devotions were something that I wanted to test out.  Then, it became something that I had to work at.  Now, I can't imagine not having a daily time of prayer.  My relationship with God needs good communication and by starting the day with prayer, I'm placing Him first on my list.

  • Prayer is about sabbath. Jesus was very serious about taking time to slow down.  Daily prayer peels off a little bit of sabbath time and inserts it in days other than the sabbath.

Wherever you are in your spiritual life, it's never too late to begin a new season of prayer.  Anyone can do it, it costs nothing and there may be no better use of your time. What are you waiting for?

Here's to another 365 days!  I'd love to know what's working in your devotional life so that prayer is real and alive for you...
Podcast 16: Interview with Brandon Vogt
In this cast we talk with Brandon Vogt, author of "The Church and the New Media:Blogging Converts, Online Activists and Bishops Who Tweet".  Brandon is an energetic leader in the world of social media and he was generous enough to give us of his schedule... especially considering his book went live the day we recorded the cast.

Click here to listen to the cast in a new window or choose the player after the break


We didn't get around to it but I was delighted to see on his book site the following:

"100% of the royalties from The Church and New Media will help establish computer labs throughout schools in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya."
Why not order Brandon's book today?  Let's get behind another "daily saint" who is making a difference in the world.

A Good Hobby for Techies
My friend Kevin is amazing.  I admire his ability to maintain hobbies outside of work and even his family life.  He enjoys Civil War community groups, golf and gardening. All of these keep him balanced and his outlook is remarkably positive.

I've developed a new hobby of my own since Twitter has come online: saved searches. First I'll tell you why I like saved searches and then I'll tell you how to do it for yourself.

Why saved searches?  Saved searches allow you to scan the conversations on Twitter and identify anything that matches your search.  For example, I've been saddened by the latest news about Fr. John Corapi and the poor choices that he's made in the last few years.  Twitter has allowed me to stay up to speed on updates and accurate news about him.

Saved searches also allow you to join in on the conversation.  I've been able to help people with questions about technology and with others, entered into meaningful dialogue about the faith.  These small bits of communication go a long way.

How do you create saved searches?

Step one is to open up Twitter.  I use the official Twitter app for my iPhone and iPad.  When I'm on my desktop, I might also use TweetDeck because it allows for an easy pull of multiple different accounts.

This morning's Twitter feed looks like this:











From here I click on the magnifying glass and type in a search keyword.  In this case, my keyword is Wunderlist, a productivity app that I want to learn more about:











From there, you can follow someone's link to a recommended article or simply reply to someone's point of view.  I also use Instapaper to batch my reading items for a later time.

Right now, my saved search list looks like the following and I check it about once a day:










The lower three items are what's trending on a given day in Twitter.

How are you using Twitter to follow important information that's of interest in your life?