My job is…

“My job as a horseman is to get the horse to understand what I need him to do.  Sometimes I have to change what I’m doing to allow him to be his best.  I got no pride in the deal.  My job to make it simple for him to understand.”  Clinton Anderson

So I found myself watching Downunder Horsemanship.  I don’t own a horse.  I don’t particularly enjoy riding horses.  But I have come across this show a couple of times and find the lessons that host, Clinton Anderson, delivers to be applicable to much more than just training a horse.  It is all about coaching and leading anyone.  This pearl reminded me what our role is as pastors and ministry leaders.  Our job as leaders is ultimately about helping those around me be successful.  When my teammates are growing and improving, particularly those under my leadership influence, it helps the whole organization’s goal and mission.

The key to helping teammates win, as Clinton summarized it, is: a leader’s flexibility and communicating so that others understand.  As a leader, I have to be willing to change my style and preferences in the pursuit of helping my teammates be their best.  And I have to work tirelessly on my conversations, communications, and even meetings, to make sure that my messages communicate a clear direction and mission.  If I’m producing confusion, people will be working against my efforts instead of thriving because of them.

Make Watching Your Digital Movies Easier

If you are like me you are stuck between in two worlds.  The physical world and the coming digital age.  I’m not speaking metaphorically.  I’m talking about my movie collection.

I want to share with you about a couple of resources I have come across recently that have helped me step into the future of managing my movie collection.  Over the course of the last decade, I have spent money on most of the major e-commerce platforms purchasing movies and music.  I have half of my purchased music collection in iTunes and half on Google Play.  I can’t help with the music today, but I have a killer solution for your movies.  It is Movies Anywhere and it is amazing.

Movies Anywhere is available on the web and both mobile platforms – iOS (Apple/iPhone) and Android (Google).  It is a place where all of your movie purchases from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Vudu all live together!  One app that syncs all those purchases you made years ago that you forgot about – in one place.  It is amazing.  No ads, no mess.  Just your movies.  It takes about a minute to get your accounts synced up and it is done.   Finally all of those Disney movies you have purchased with the digital code in the box that you never knew what to do with – now has a place to live.

And if you need help filling out your digital movie collection then I have another resource for you.  I don’t buy a ton of movies, but when I do, I want to spend as little as possible.   I came across JustWatch a couple of weeks ago.  It is a website that compares the various digital platforms and helps you see the best place to purchase or rent them.  Pair that with the Movies Anywhere app and you don’t have to have tons of random apps floating around your phone just so you can watch the videos you have purchased.

Fountain Pen Ink – Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot

What is Astorquiza Rot?  I don’t know…ok, I didn’t know.  I googled it.  According to the Pen Addict review, “Astorquiza Rot is named after Claudia Astorquiza who introduced Robert Oster inks internationally. “Rot” is German for red (I feel really dumb that I didn’t know that).”  I would encourage you to check out their fantastic review for a more in-depth review of the ink.  This was my first experience using a Robert Oster ink which I was excited to try.  Having heard the name and the meteoric rise in the last few years of the brand I wanted to get my hands on their products.  I picked up a handful samples of Robert Oster inks from Goulet Pens and can’t wait to try them out.

Using my usual set up (left-handed on a standard paper notebook) I have been using this ink for a couple of weeks.  I love the color.  It is a rich and deep red that is almost a blood red to my eyes.  Using a TWSBI Eco with an Extra Fine nib it is a quick drying ink that doesn’t feather noticeably.  It looks great without looking like it belongs in a Crayola crayon box.  It seems like a more refined red which has its place just like my much loved Sheaffer Skrip Red.   In summation – I really enjoy this ink and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on all the other Oster inks soon.

Google Pixel 2 – My Experience

In October I was due for a cell phone upgrade and after some research, I settled on the Google Pixel 2.  Using it every day for the last two months I have some observations.  I really like this phone.  It is the best phone that I have had ever, but it should be.  It isn’t perfect, but it is very good.  The Pixel 2 had the best features available for this price point (around $650).  Below are the aspects that bring me the most joy and frustration:

  • Camera – This camera is amazing.  Seriously.  It is so much better than anything I have ever used before.  It doesn’t have a ton of control options which is good because I would just screw those up.  I just take the picture and Google’s magic makes it looks great.  If you don’t want to learn how to take great photos, but want to have amazing photos – get this phone.
  • Phone Size – I had hoped that this would enable me to go back to using a phone with one hand, it has not.  For me, the phone feels a little too big to use comfortably one-handed.  I do LOVE that I can put it in my pocket and I can forget it is there!  It is nice having a phone that doesn’t take up so much space in my life.
  • Squeeze to Activate Google Assistant – I have enjoyed this feature, but it hasn’t been a game changer.  It is nice not having to yell, “Ok Google.”  But it still seems like I can only get a successful interaction about 80%, which is better than anything I have had with Siri, but not enough to make me it a go-to option.
  • 5 Inch Screen – Having come from the Nexus 6p which had a 5.7-inch screen, I was concerned about the smaller Pixel 2 screen size.  The older I get and worst my vision gets the more I want to have the luxury of the larger screen.  It hasn’t ruined my experience, but it is one of thing first things that I think about when reflecting on this phone.  Apart from the size, this is a good looking screen.  Google has offered some more options for ramping up the color saturation so some of the early complaints you will find in initial reviews aren’t an issue at this point.
  • Headphone Jack – At this point, if you are reading this you should know that it doesn’t have a headphone jack.  I get it.  It is terrible that it doesn’t have it.  You only notice it when you need it…which is ironically when you need it.  The adapters are cheap enough, but the fact that they don’t include some cheap USB-C headphones is frustrating.  I would suggest you order 2 or 3 extra adapters when you order your phone and have them already attached to connectors you need in your life (car, favorite headphones, office, etc).
  • Operating System & Apps – Android is a fun OS and most of your favorite apps are available on Google Play.  But “most” isn’t “all.”  Some of the more trendy productivity apps are iPhone exclusive and don’t seem to be moving to Google/Android anytime soon.

Fountain Pen Ink – Noodler’s Georgia Peach

I came across Noodler’s Georgia Peach when looking on JetPens.com Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Inks, page an essential resource for us lefthanded writers.  Having lived in Georgia for my entire life I was immediately drawn to the name.  The color is fantastic.  It is a solid pinkish color, but it readable which is a problem with some colors like this. 

Almost all of my writing is done in my Muji Notebook which is my every day carry and cheap copy paper.  I was using a Lamy Safari with a fine nib.  The drying time wasn’t as quick as I had hoped it would be, but it wasn’t unusable.  It is just really dicey as a lefty side-writer.  Overall I would recommend this to a righty, but for those of us left-handers, I think this is a pass.

2018 I’m going to…

We are just a few days away from 2018.  Many of us are thinking about our goals and new year’s resolutions.  Here is a tip I came across recently… Don’t tell anyone what you are going to do in 2018!  Yeah, I was confused at first too.  Check out Derek Sivers’ mini TED Talk, it is less than four minutes and will be way more helpful than me trying to summarize it.

Be awesome in 2018.

Ministry Tip: What We Say – When We Fail To Communicate

What we have here is a failure to communicate…

I never knew where this line came from.  It was the introduction to one of my favorite jams as a teenager, Guns N’ Roses song Civil War.  I came across the actual movie that it comes from, Cool Hand Luke, a was reminded of it.

Do you know what you say when you fail to communicate?  When we fail to connect with our target audience.  The easy answer is to say nothing.  But we actually communicate quite a bit.  We convey that the statement that we have made wasn’t very important.  Whatever it was we wanted to get across: a message, an apology, congratulations, won’t be heard and it won’t be received.  When we fail to communicate with intentionality and clarity we aren’t just missing the mark, we are confusing our messages and muddying the waters for our future opportunities for influence.

Gift Ideas For Folks Who Have Everything… (hint: PENS!)

It is the holiday season and people are thinking about what gifts they can give to people that already have too much of everything.  I like to give gifts that people will actually use and that will help improve their lives in some way.  One of the things that everybody uses, but rarely thinks much of, is their writing instruments – pen and pencils.  I thought that I would offer up some options if you want to improve your friend’s pens and pencils.  Below are my favorite pens at various price points.  You can find most of these pens at Amazon and all of them at JetPens (my preferred pen purchasing location!).

  • TSWBI Eco Fountain Pen $32
    • My favorite and first love in fountain pens
    • Note that this pen requires you have a bottle of fountain pen ink, but having accessories if part of the fun!
  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen $30
    • Just a super toss in your bag and go fountain pen
    • Tons of colors available for these too
    • It takes both cartridges and bottle ink
  • Retro 51 Tornado $27
    • A fabulous roller ball pen that is as smooth as any pen I have used
    • You can see what I think about mine here
  • Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen $4
    • A perfect Fountain Pen to have so you can share
    • Love them!
  • Uni-ball Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil $6
    • This is a great mechanical pencil because sometimes you need to do math homework and you can’t use a pen on your math homework
  • Pentel Energel Gel Pen $2

Hope this helps and I hope that you consider giving the gift of pens this Christmas!

Pen Review: Retro 51 Tornado Slim

I have been hearing about Retro 51 pens now for over a year on the Pen Addict podcast. Myke, one of the host, is always raving about his love for Retro 51 Tornado pens. About a week ago I finally decided to order one – Tornado Slim Electron.

It uses the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 black ink which is kind of a mix of rollerball and ballpoint pen ink (you can learn more about it here – a great blog post about the ink).  And I will say that it is a wonderful pen.  The turning mechanism to get the pen ready to write is tactilely fantastic.  The ink is smooth and dark, but dries quickly and writes on just about any surface.

My only issue with the pen is, do I really need a $25 rollerball pen?  At the end of the day, that is what this decision comes down to.  I really love this pen.  It is an A+ pen.  It isn’t a question of IF it is a better writing experience than the pens anyone will pick up at Office Depot.  And yes that even includes my beloved Energel!  It is a question of, “Am I someone who needs a $25 rollerball pen?”  If you can afford one, by all means, get one.  It is really a dream to write with.  But if you can’t, don’t feel like you are cheating yourself.  It is more an issue of do I need and will use this pen enough to purchase a $25 rollerball pen.

Ministry Tip: …God meets us where we really are.

“God comes to us not where we should have been if we had made all the right choices in life; not where we could have been if we had taken every opportunity that God has offered us; not where we wish we were if we didn’t have to be in the place where we find ourselves; not where we think we are because our minds are out of sync with our hearts; not where other people think we are or think we ought to be when they are attending to their own agendas. God meets us where we really are.“ – Margaret Silf (Source: Inner Compass)

I came across this quote a few years ago and found it again as I was preparing for an upcoming sermon.  It is easy to think that if we have missed our preferred future or dream life that we have somehow missed out on God.  Scripture and experience remind us that that just isn’t the case. Thank God that he is where we are, not where we could have been.