Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

When my life gets busy and I start to feel overwhelmed, it's blogging that seems to get cut first. So when I don't blog for a few days, you can guess exactly what's going on in my life - busyness!

The next thing that happens is that the thought of getting back in to blogging becomes intimidating and trying to think what to write about becomes overwhelming, so new posts get put off until I feel in control again. The problem is that I rarely feel in control.

So here are a few random thoughts that are going through my head at the moment and let's hope they spark some creativity in the near future...

Met up with fellow blogger and Cre:ate alumni Jim Drake at the weekend. He was here on an Egyptology holiday with Sister, Suzy. It was great to hang out in our living room with them and make all kinds of connections, and know that we'll meet up again in February.

I'm loving our creative planning team meetings at the moment - we meet up at CSA, just up the road, where there is a branch of Cafe Greco, and we brainstorm and plan the services for the upcoming weeks. Lots of creative energy, banter and great ideas.

The desert is beginning to cool off in the mornings, and on my weekly mountain bike meeting/ride with Steve (my boss) this morning, my sweat quotient was significantly less than last week.

We're making preparations for a family trip to the Sinai mountains next week - can't wait.

A former worship team member sent me a beautiful postcard of her new home, La Paz in Bolivia - stunning backdrop to the city.

I have my men's life group tonight, so I'd better get home and be a Dad for the next couple of hours before the guys arrive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Productivity Gospel according to Merlin Mann

I've been hanging around the fringes of the productivity scene for a little while now. You know how it is, us creative types aren't generally too hot on admin and organisation, and we need a little systems education every now and then. Fair enough right? And of course, what better way is there to spend your time when you should be producing some kind of output than to be doing research and reading about systems and techniques for producing that output faster and more efficiently?

Or is that just procrastination?

The issue is that you (or rather, I) can easily waste time checking out geeky productivity websites, forums and blogs when we should just be getting on with doing the stuff. Luckily, I found a book that helps with all this. It's called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen, or "GTD" for short, and it's been really very helpful in encouraging me to cope with everything that comes across my desk in a much more organised way. Sadly, this too has spawned a huge cult of acolytes and consultants all tweaking the GTD methodology and endlessly musing on which piece of software would make their system complete, or which brand of wire paper rack should they use. It's all a bit crazy.

One of the hubs for this kind of communication in the past has been Merlin Mann's blog, 43 Folders. So, imagine how refreshing it was for me to read this on his blog this week;

I want to help you identify and remove any obstacle that keeps you from making things that you love. And then I want to help you figure out how to make those things even better. That’s pretty much it.

Friends, I’m done with “productivity” as a personal fetish or hobby. There are countless sites that are all too happy to vend stroke material for your joyless addiction to puns about procrastination and systems for generating more taxonomically satisfying meta-work.

From now on, I’m going to talk about how people make stuff. Books, art, code, buildings, ballets, companies, furniture, whimsical hats, songs, or what have you.

But, what about all the cool notebooks, links to lists of “GTD resources,” and ponderously detailed tutorials on how to label a file folder? Yeah. From now on, maybe don’t expect a lot of that here. Unless I feel it has a direct link to helping you do things.

Now that's more like it. Actually getting things done as opposed to endlessly dissecting how to get things done.

I'm very much looking forward to the journey.

This is part of Creative Chaos over at Ragamuffin Soul.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beer Tasting Notes

One of the things that I enjoy about going back to England every summer is sampling a variety of fine Real Ales. This year was no exception. Here follow my tasting notes for some of the invigorating and delicious brews that found their way across my path...

Old Speckled Hen
Medium brown colour, smooth, balanced, rich, malty.

Cains F.A.(Formidable Ale)
Golden colour, malty and hoppy. Full, fruity palate with citrus highlights.

Cains Culture Beer
Full bodied Pale Ale. Fruity and sweet. Citrus nose and palate.

Deuchars IPA (Indian Pale Ale)
Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2002
Golden colour, dry, blend of malt and hop with a hint of citrus.

Thwaites Double Century
Double hopped, bitter orange finish, malty, amber coloured. Powerful.

Premium Kentish Ale
Deep amber colour, generous aromas of tangy malt, spicy hops, with a complex finish.

So what's your favourite beer? And don't give me any of that "Bud Lite" nonsense.

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday over at Ethos.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Desert Retreat

I had a wonderful time out at Wadi Natrun for two days on a personal retreat. It was time for a spiritual recharge and some peace and quiet so I could clear out all the stuff that so often seems to clog up my prayer times. There have been monasteries in the Wadi since the fourth century, so some people feel that there is an "open heaven" there due to the continued prayer over the last 1600 years.

Here's an excerpt from my journal for one evening:

Sitting on the roof watching the sun set over the lake, reading Mark's gospel. Listening to the mosques all around broadcasting the Koran, until finally there is five minutes of silence before they break out with the call to prayer and Iftar can finally begin. The last few tractors and trucks and tuk-tuks find their way home as the light fades and peace descends on the wadi. There's the magical sound of hooves on the road in the background and a horse and cart comes in to view in the distance, the driver galloping home, late for his meal.

Birds fly low over the lake, Egrets, Curlews, Geese and Senegal Thick-Knees, their cries are amplified by the silence. Down in the prayer room below me, a worship session kicks off, the sound of Arabic praise songs with a tabla back-beat drifts up to my roof top and I am eventually chased indoors by the mosquitoes.

The Road to the Retreat Centre

The door to my balcony

The view from my rooftop prayer spot over the salt lake to the desert

Bible, candles, Moleskines, Uni-ball & Papermate Clearpoint


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kick Off

Every year at about this time we have a special weekend of services to launch the church's ministry for the coming year. So we pull out all the stops, decorate the place, cover the property in celebration tenting and crank out some top tunes in the worship.

The whole point of the service is to celebrate what God is doing in us and with us and encourage people to think about how God wants them to get involved in ministry, so we'll have some testimonies, some information available about what is going on in the church, and then tables and booths around the place so that people can get information and sign up to participate.

My team, Revo, Gordon, Marianne, George and Abraham have been working really hard to put this together, designing banners, making videos, painting the backdrop, arranging flowers and balloons, setting up tables and creating a party atmosphere in our funny old tent.

Here are some of the set-up pictures.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008