Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You Are Unique - Part 2

Have you ever taken a personality test? I took one about a year ago and found it to be quite interesting. I had never really learned about the four personality types but found it very helpful to know the strengths and weaknesses of each. I don't know about you, but within the group of people who I call my friends there are those who just annoy each other and cannot get along. To me it makes no sense because I see the good in them, but they just don't understand each other. Learning more about personalities made me see why. I ended up in the "E" type...the type that is pretty much equal in everything. I guess I was 27% driver, 25% each in expressive and amiable, and 23% analytical (By the way, I wear a tie once or twice a year - definitely a jeans and T-shirt type person). Being a little of everything is a double-edged sword. I display strengths from the four main types, but find that I have weaknesses from all types as well. I think the best thing it did for me was help me understand my own tendencies and learn how to better interact with others. I learned what kinds of things irritate and what things to focus on in conversation. It also helped me understand my wife better (and vice versa). Interestingly enough, knowing personality types and being able to recognize them can make or break you in an interview, so that is why I am reviewing them.

I guess because I am a little bit of all four types, I don't often find myself conflicting with others, and I am confident others would agree. I like interacting with all of them. For me, the types of things that irritate me most are when someone puts a person down, makes fun of them, gossips, and so forth. I like to side with the underdog, focus on the good in people, and be encouraging.

Check out the links below - they are very interesting. The last link is a test that will help determine which type you may be (don't worry, it's not a test you can fail). It is yet another example of the way God made each and every one of us unique. We can work to improve our weaknesses without destroying our individuality. I'll bet it annoys God when we compare ourselves to others or try to be someone who we just weren't made to be. What type(s) do you most fit into? What do you feel is your biggest strength/weakness?


Here's the test:

Friday, January 27, 2006

You Are Unique - Part 1

Wow, I it is hard to believe a week has gone by since my last post. Sorry I have been a bit scarce. I have been incredibly busy sending out resumes and studying technical books in order to refresh my memory. I am just now coming up for air. One of my cousins and her husband are coming in from out of town to see my dad this weekend and they are staying with us, so I'd better write now while I have the chance.

As you can probably guess, I have been doing much introspection lately and one thing on my mind is something I learned as a teacher. We had to go to several professional development seminars and there is one I remember in particular. I had learned about this in an educational psychology class as a music education major, but I had never taken the test. The seminar was basically proving the point that we should not "pigeon-hole" people as being "smart" or not. Doing so is a mistake and will alienate some students while giving others an attitude of superiority. The seminar was about the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner in his book "Frames of Mind" published in 1983. He believes there are seven (eighth was added later) intelligences that people can possess in varying degrees. They are:

Linguistic intelligence
Logical-mathematical intelligence
Musical intelligence
Spatial intelligence
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
Interpersonal intelligence
Intrapersonal intelligence
Naturalistic intelligence

Here's an example. I have to admit that I really like Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter). If I were stuck deep in the Australian bush country I would want him to escort me out. Offer me the best brain surgeon in the world or the best software engineer in the world, I'd still prefer Steve. I think he is a genius in his niche. However, if I needed brain surgery, I would go with the brain surgeon. No offense Steve, but to hear you say, "Just cut his skull right there, mate" would be very scary.

There are links at the bottom of this post if you'd like to explore this more. The last link is a test you can take to see how you score in each area. I guess this is on my mind because I am of the opinion that if you are good at something you will enjoy doing it. I also believe God's plan for our lives will involve each and every talent and ability that He has given us. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean all those will be wrapped up in our "job". For example, my Interpersonal Intelligence is definitely not exercised when I stare at a computer screen all day, but it can be utilized with volunteer work and contacting people who God puts on my heart. It also doesn't mean that our talents and abilities will be used in the same season of our life. It's up to us to seek God in order for us to find the right combination and the right timing.


Click the link below to take the test:

Friday, January 20, 2006

Standing at a Crossroad

Tuesday morning I went to work and was informed that I was laid off along with one third of the company. It didn't come as a surprise. The company has been struggling and there had been two series of layoffs since August. Many others had quit. I was very happy there as far as the people and the environment go. The job itself did not involve nearly as much actual development as I had initially been led to believe, so I felt I was not growing professionally. I had considered looking for another job, but did not feel right about quitting. I wanted to be one of the ones who stuck with the company through good and bad. Now that I am laid off, I feel "released" to find something more tailored to what I want to do.

"More tailored to what I want to do" is an interesting concept. Ministry as a full-time job is still very much on my heart. I had one interview (tech job) already and as I drove to it I thought, "WHAT am I DOING????" Quite honestly I feel out of my element. I have to artificially psych myself up in order to show enthusiasm for technology. It is just something I do as a means of support. Helping people is where my heart is. I think the interview went well, but I was not very impressed with the person who would be my boss (not that it really matters). I trust my God. I know the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord. I am confident in that and strong in the belief that God is my provider. I received the equivalent of five weeks of severance pay, so that certainly helps. However, I want to get something right away so that the five weeks of pay ends up being supplemental. We could certainly use the extra money right now to put toward work on the house that needs to be done.

Simply put, I want God's perfect will for my life. I would very much appreciate your prayers...that God would give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that He would enlighten the eyes of my understanding (Eph. 1:17,18). It says in Proverbs that the spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord. God leads us by giving us a "comfort" in our inward witness when something is His will and a "check" when something is not. I have been faithful at my previous job. I never complained, always gave 110%, did my work as unto the Lord, went above and beyond what was expected of me, and witnessed to people as the Lord led me. I think about that movie "Karate Kid" every now and then. I consider much of my secular work to be "waxing the car" and "painting the fence". I know someday all that I have learned will come together. Thanks very much for your blog-friendship and your prayers.

Monday, January 16, 2006

'American Idol' Question

Okay, I hope I don't disappoint anyone, but this post really doesn't have any spiritual significance except the benefit of a merry heart and a big smile. I have a rather unique, some would say warped, sense of humor, and I have learned to "release" it slowly when interacting with people who do not know me very well yet. This post is simply based on a "what would you do" type question and may give you a brief sample of Mark D's humorous side. Be afraid...be very afraid.

I really don't watch much television, but I have to say that I am looking forward to tomorrow night when "American Idol" premieres (Pop Idol in some countries, other names elsewhere). I tend to lose interest after the auditions are over, but I get a big kick out of watching the reactions of Simon, Randy, and Paula to the "bad" auditions. I really hope that some of those are just pranks, but I have a feeling most are real. I know there is at least one radio show whose interns successfully staged a "joke" and managed to make it on the show. Anyway, my question is this: If you were competing to come up with the worst audition of all and you had to pick one song and perform it really, really bad, what would the song be? What would you wear? How would you act?

Here's mine:

I would do a retro type audition using a song from the 80's, complete with parachute pants, a 3/4 length sleeve shirt that says "Totally Awesome", and a mullet wig. I would sing "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby (1983) while doing the worst breakdancing possible (click HERE for a short sample of the song). I would work my hands in peek-a-boo fashion (covering my eyes and then uncovering, like you would with a baby) and would even try to "sing" the musical parts...

She blinded me with science (eeee eerrrr eeee eerrrr)
She blinded me...with science (da na na na)

But that's just me....What would YOU do?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Clearly there is a problem

As you may have gathered from previous posts, I love animals. I have locked up the brakes to miss a sparrow, rescued baby raccoons from a dumpster, and held up traffic until I could carry a turtle out of danger. The following is what I learned after helping a bird. I wanted to post it so I can more often remember what I gained as a result of the experience.

The summer after graduating from high school I got a job as a helper installing siding on houses. We did one house that was new construction and quite a ways out into the country. The house was L-shaped and had a walkout basement. The basement sliding-glass door had not been installed yet, but a large window had been installed (see diagram below). I had to go down to the basement to grab some materials and when I did, I heard a strange noise over by the window. Upon investigating I noticed a bird had flown in to explore and was fluttering up and down the window trying to get back outside. It was frazzled and desperate. I immediately wanted to help, so I slowly walked over and cupped my hands like you would if you were trying to hold water. I allowed my hands to follow it until finally the bird touched my hands. That made it freak out all the more and it chirped alarmingly. I said, "It's okay, I'm helping you." Maybe it was the tone of my voice that helped, but several seconds later it fluttered down into my hands and this time it relaxed. It just sat there, quietly, as if it knew. Maybe it was the warmth of my hands or the fact that the shape of my hands resembled a nest...a place of security, comfort, and trust. I was amazed that this non-domesticated animal was not trying to bite me. I slowly backed away from the window and watched as the bird looked up at me, then the window, me, then the window. It must have puzzled the bird that it was seemingly being taken away from where it wanted to go. I walked through the space where the sliding-glass door would go and went outside. I looked at it, smiled, and said, "You're free" as I threw my hands upward and let it fly. It sang a happy song and circled wildly above me as if the jubilation was almost too much to handle. Then it perched on a stack of bricks, looked back at me and sang some more, and flew to a nearby thicket.

As I walked back inside tears welled up in my eyes. I felt God speak to me inside and explain that what just happened was what He sees and feels when trying to rescue us. Because of our sin nature we end up trapping ourselves. We can clearly see where we need to go, but all our might and power simply cannot get us there. We get frazzled and desperate. Why can't we get there? Where is the way? When God intervenes it is not always easy. There is a trust that is required. In fact, at times we feel we are going backwards. It doesn't make sense. However, if we rest in His hands, He will lead us and guide us.

Maybe it's a sin pattern, maybe addiction, maybe a pane of glass that people near you built over time with their words. Maybe it's the tendency to try to take the controls of your own life and live independent from your Creator. Maybe it's the allure of the things of this world. Whatever has you trapped, just accept the fact you can't get out on your own. We weren't made to. If we could perform to the extent needed to free ourselves, then Christ died in vain. It is only through the nurturing love of God, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly be set free. Rest in His hands. He knows what He is doing.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Last Saturday my dad and I went to counseling again. The first time we went I just sat there and let him go on and on about how everything was my mother's fault. This time I spoke up. My mother does spend most of her waking hours waiting on my sister hand and foot while my dad feels like a wallflower. However, I brought up the fact that people tend to gravitate toward those who make them feel wanted, appreciated, valued, and loved. She gets that from my sister, but not from my dad. I explained to the counselor that my dad and mom have pointed fingers at each other for years and someone needs to have the guts to be the first to change.

A little further into the session I experienced something I never thought I would. My dad told the counselor that he was extremely excited about my wife and I expecting our first baby. He started talking about it and began to explain that he hopes that I never make the kind of mistakes that he did as a father. He couldn't quite get it out before he started crying. I have never seen him cry before in my life - not even at funerals. I guess he was brought up to believe that a man doesn't cry. Personally, I feel that a man's ability to express emotion is a sign of strength, not weakness. I glanced over at him and his eyebrows were up. I have always seen them down in an angry, tight, downward position. It only lasted several seconds, but I see this as progress. For those of you who have been praying, thank you!

I'm not sure how much was actually accomplished in the counseling session. For two or three months now my dad has not been very sharp. I can tell the cancer is affecting his short-term memory and his attention span. He tells me things that he has already told me 15 or 20 times. It gets frustrating and certainly makes my heart go out to those who have relatives with Alzheimer's. I notice during the session that the counselor apparently had not gotten enough sleep. Her eyes would droop every ten seconds or so and then close. I didn't know whether to continue or wait until she opened her eyes. I'd look over at my dad to see if he saw her nodding off and he would have his eyes closed too. I realized I was the only one following what was going on. There came a point where I almost volunteered to pick up some coffee for everyone. One time my classical guitar teacher fell asleep - completely asleep - when I was in the middle of playing. I took it as a compliment because it was a soothing song. It's one of those situations where you're not sure of the proper etiquette. Do I wake him? Do I start playing a more lively song? I waited about 30 seconds and then coughed politely. He jolted awake and said, "Nicely done!" I thought to myself, "Apparently so." I'm sure the counselor realized that I knew. Anyway, the next appointment will be earlier in the day. Hopefully that's better for both her and my dad.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Something in My Teeth??

Cindy and I went out to breakfast with my former youth pastor. It was good to catch up on how things are going with him and encourage one another. I had one of my favorite dishes - Eggs Florentine Benedict. It is made with large fresh poached eggs, crisp bacon, steamed spinach, sliced tomato and hollandaise sauce on a grilled english muffin. We talked for at least an hour and I excused myself to visit the men's room. I glanced in the mirror and realized I had a rather significant piece of spinach caught between one of my front teeth and the smaller one next to it. Ugh! I couldn't believe I had been smiling and laughing for an hour without realizing it was there. It's bad enough with a piece of bread or dough, but at least that is light-colored. Nobody could miss dark green! So that's why the waitress was smiling so big when I answered "yes" to more coffee. How embarrassing!

God's Word is like a mirror. Without it we can live our lives thinking that we are doing fine, when in actuality there are adjustments that need to be made. When we spend quality time in the Word, God reveals to us the areas of our lives that need to be changed. I'd much prefer to look into the mirror of the Word and promptly make the adjustments instead of having my faults, obvious to everyone except me, be put on display. Thank God for His mercy and grace.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Looking forward...

First of all, Happy New Year!!!! My whole extended weekend was very busy with trying to get progress made on a couple house projects, so that's why I am just now acknowledging the new year.

Resolutions for 2006? Well, I am not really into making new year resolutions. I don't think I have in four years. The main reason is that I am constantly looking for ways to grow and improve in whatever area of my life, so I guess the first of the year really isn't special in that way. However, I do feel that sharing goals with others is good because it makes you accountable. So, if I had one goal that I WANT you to hold me accountable to, it would be the following:

The problem: To make a long story very short, in 1999 I tore up my knee in a softball game and had to have reconstructive surgery (to repair the ACL and take out cartilage). When it happened, my knee bent backwards and the drop in support caused my SI joint (where the pelvis and tailbone meet) to jam up. It bothered me long after my knee had completely healed. Because of the pain I ended up sitting off kilter at work, which apparently aggravated my back and gave me a couple bulging discs. The doctor showed them to me and told me they could rupture at any time. This past year I have become skeptical of that diagnosis (or at least his advice to be careful with it) and have been reading more about treating bulging discs with stretches and movement.

The result: In the past two years I have gained about 60 pounds due to lack of activity yet eating like I was still very active. Not only am I not happy with the way I look from a confidence standpoint, I can tell that it makes me "drag" physically. I am in the worst shape of my life. I want to be in tip-top health when the baby is born, so I must start now to get the weight off and get in shape.

The plan: I'll probably start with doing stretches on a more consistent basis, walking the dog, and swimming a couple times a week. The exercise bike is also good because it is non-impact. From there I plan to start running on a treadmill and lifting weights gradually.

The goal: I will lose 10 pounds or more a month, participate in another triathlon this summer, and complete the first marathon of my life in the summer or early fall. There, I've said it, now I HAVE to keep working toward these goals or I'll feel like a dork for even mentioning them (which is the whole point of this post). I'll probably write monthly updates on my progress.

Present weight: 250 pounds
Weight lost: uh, zero
Pounds to go: 60

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